Cuban-American Relations

June 25, 1930

Report Outline
The Price of Sugar and the Situation in China
Cuban-American Political Relations
Cuban-American Economic Relations
Political Conditions in Cuba
Special Focus

The Price of Sugar and the Situation in China

The rapid descent of sugar prices during the last nine months has resulted in an economic depression of steadily increasing intensity throughout the Island of Cuba. Sugar prices have been moving downward for five years, and the decline in sugar has been accompanied by a five-year decline in the prices of tobacco. Tobacco is Cuba's second largest money crop, although its value is only about one-tenth that of the sugar crop. Cuba's third source of largest revenues during recent years has been the tourist trade. A falling off of about one-half in tourist expenditures during the 1929–30 season, as a result of the Wall Street panic, has rendered the economic situation more acute. The business stagnation, unemployment, and economic distress prevailing in the island have been reflected by a marked slump during recent months in Cuban trade with the United States, and have been accompanied by political developments in Cuba which make it appear that the internal situation is one of increasing gravity.

The Fall in the Price of Sugar

The value of Cuban sugar at the Port of New York has fallen by more than one-third during the last nine months. The trend of prices from October, 1929, to the middle of June, 1930, is shown in the table below.

Early in June Cuban sugar, duty unpaid, fell to a record low of 1.375 cents a pound. Prices rose thereafter, touching 1.57 on June 16, the day before the President signed the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill. By that bill the duty on Cuban sugar was increased from 1.7648 cents to an even two cents a pound. The day after the bill went into effect Cuban sugar dropped to 1.26 cents a pound, the lowest price since 1860. The increase in the duty was about one-fourth of a cent; the drop in the price prior to payment of the duty was about one-third of a cent. These figures indicate that for the time being at least the increase in the duty is being absorbed by the producers of Cuban sugar. Prior to this year the nearest approach during the last 70 years to the present low level of Cuban prices was in 1902 when Cuban sugar sold at 1.56 cents a pound.

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