Nearshore Americas

Port-au-Prince Becomes Shopping Paradise for Cuban Traders

Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has reportedly turned out to be a dream destination for Cuban traders looking for cheap merchandise that they resell to their countrymen back home.

Cubans on short shopping trips are a common sight in some pockets of markets across the Haitian capital, according to AFP.

From clothing to light bulbs, and perfumes to tooth brushes, they buy everything that is expensive in Cuba. Black marketeering of this kind is a growing business in the communist country, where state-owned shops sell goods at exorbitant price.

The goods are not only expensive, there are little choices to make for shoppers, according to the people who spoke to the news wire.

Some reports say many of these merchandise are three or four times cheaper in Haiti than in Cuba,  a prime reason for Cuban shopkeepers to launch trips to the hemisphere’s poorest country that is barely 639 kilometers (397 miles) away from Havana.

There is no clear data as to how much money Cubans spend on goods in Haiti in a year. A conservative estimation from the Associated Press puts the figure at US$2 billion.

Cubans have a long history of traveling to countries like Mexico, Panama, Russia and Guyana, in search of cheaper goods. But these days they seem to have fallen in love with Haiti, whose economy is in doldrums, with the country repeatedly devaluing its currency in a bid to attract foreign investment.

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Cuba’s loss is Haiti’s gain. Haitian airline Sunrise runs almost half a dozen weekly flights to the Cuban cities of Havana, Camaguey and Santiago, giving Cubans an easy access to Haitian markets.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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