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Cuba’s Habanos expects 25-30% market share if US revokes trade embargo

Published 24 February 2015

Cuba’s cigar manufacturer Habanos is expecting an immediate share of 25-30% in the premium cigar market if the US revokes its trade embargo against communist neighbour Cuba.

According to the company, which is a 50-50 partnership between the Government of Cuba and Imperial Tobacco Group, the market share is expected to escalate to almost 70% within 5-15 years.

In 2014, despite lack of direct access to the US market, Habanos generated around $439m of sales.

If the embargo was lifted, Habanos vouched for the quality of its signature cigars, including its Montecristos, Cohibas and Romeo y Julietas, even though it would have to raise production levels to meet the colossal demand of 70 to 90 million units every year.

Habanos commercial vice-president Jorge Luis Fernandez Maique told Reuters: "Some might consider that figure a little conservative, but I can tell you that with 25% we would be the market leaders."

On 17 December 2014, both countries declared intentions to re-establish diplomatic relations, improving prospects for the 53-year-old trade embargo to be struck down.

In a "symbolic" gesture, American President Barack Obama has already removed certain travel and trade restrictions. Now, American citizens are permitted to bring back into the US alcohol and tobacco worth $100 from Cuba for their personal use.