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2014-01-03 08:50

IMPORT-BAN LIFTED: A woman takes pictures of used cars for sale in Havana as a new regulation allows Cubans or foreign residents to freely buy new or used cars in government-run dealership. Image: AFP

HAVANA, Cuba -  Cuba is set to allow new car imports in January 2014, effectively ending a decades-old ban. The communist island's authorities announced that new rules were in place for the free import of new and used cars, after Cuba lifted the ban in December 2013.

Shortly after the 1959 revolution, Cuba largely banned the sale of cars. Imported cars can be sold at market prices starting January 03 2014, without need for special permission.

BLACK MARKET BOOM

Until now, Cubans and foreigners living on the island needed special permission for imported vehicles and a booming black market had long developed for such authorisations, which the government often granted to its employees or to doctors.

Since October 2011, private individuals are again allowed to buy and sell cars, which until then was only the case for cars built before 1959. Havana renowned for its classic US models and Soviet-style cars.

Cuban President Raul Castro (82) has for several years been implementing modest reforms to partially liberalize the economy in the island's state-controlled system.
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