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Cuba sells 160 million cigars in 2005

Cuba sold about 160 million of its world famous cigars last year, a leading tobacco executive said yesterday in announcing plans for this year's annual international cigar festival.

Similar sales numbers have been reported in recent years, averaging around 150 million.

Manuel Garcia, vice president of the island's cigar marketing firm Habanos SA, told reporters that the world market for premium cigars is about 400 million, about half of which are sold in the United States. Cuba cannot legally export cigars or any other products to the United States under a 45-year American trade embargo against the island.

Europe is the biggest market for Cuba's US$350 million (euro282 million) annual cigar business, especially Spain and France, followed by Germany. Asia is also a growing market for Cuban cigars, Garcia said.

Cuba commercialises its premium cigars exclusively through Habanos, a joint venture between the island's government and the European firm Altadis.

Now in its eighth year, the Festival del Habano will be held Feb 27 through March 3, drawing as many as 1,000 cigar aficionados from 60 countries to Havana.

Source: Jamaica Observer