Cuba decrees steep increase for import tax

Measure could impact private entrepreneurs

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HAVANA - Cuba is implementing stiff new import taxes on merchandise entering the country.

Starting in September, Cubans who travel abroad more than once a year will have to pay $10 a kilogram ($4.50 a pound) for imports.

That's a lot of money in a country where government salaries average just $20 a month. Non-residents, including Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, will have to pay even more.

The measure could substantially impact private entrepreneurs who are trying to get new businesses off the ground under President Raul Castro's economic reform plan.

It could also make things tougher for many other islanders who rely on informal shipments of merchandise from overseas.

The decree was posted recently on a government website and dated July 2.

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