Cuba economic growth rises to 4.7 pct in first half -minister
By Marc Frank
HAVANA, July 15 (Reuters) - Warming relations with the United States and domestic reforms helped Cuba increase year-on-year economic growth to 4.7 percent during the first half of 2015, Economy Minister Marino Murillo told the country's parliament on Wednesday.
The figure was up from an estimate of 4 percent Murillo made a month ago. It confirmed a trend of higher GDP growth in Cuba, where despite four years of market-oriented reforms the gross domestic product had grown an average 2.3 percent annually since 2011, and rose just 1.3 percent in 2014.
"This is very good, taking into account that last year we only grew 1 percent," President Raul Castro told the National Assembly, according to a report by the National Information Agency (AIN).
The economy was on track to grow 4 percent for all of 2015, as forecast, Castro said.
The Cuban National Assembly is closed to foreign press, though some details are reported in the official media.
Agriculture was up 4.8 percent led by the sugar industry with 22.6 percent growth, AIN reported. Manufacturing grew 8 percent, construction 8.7 percent and internal trade 6.7 percent.
Tourist arrivals increased more than 15 percent, although earnings lagged behind, in part due to falling values of various currencies against the dollar.
The Tourism Ministry reported last month earnings increased just 4 percent through May. Continuación...