People stand outside a currency exchange shop to change money in Havana, March 17, 2016
Enrique de la Osa—Reuters
May 24, 2016 11:37 PM EDT

Cuba is set to legalize “private businesses of medium, small and micro size” in a bid to stimulate growth in an economy that’s been largely under strict state control since the 1950s Communist revolution.

The BBC reports that the reform was included in a 32-page plan for economic development, which has been approved by Congress.

Since taking over from his ailing brother in 2008, President Raul Castro has been attempting to kick start the island nation’s economy, and has allowed people doing certain jobs, such as hairdressing and restaurateurs, to be self employed. He has also restored diplomatic relations with the U.S. — welcoming President Obama on a landmark visit in March — and begun a process of opening the country up to foreign investment.

However, it is not clear whether the newly-authorized private enterprises will be allowed to import and export products, the BBC says, pointing out that, for now at least, the bulk of the economy remains in the hands of the state.


Write to Simon Lewis at

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