Thu Jan 8, 2009 8:53pm GMT
By Marc Frank
HAVANA, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Cuban exports of services grew by 6.2 percent in 2008, topping the $9 billion mark for the first time and consolidating their position as Cuba's most important source of foreign exchange, the government said this week.
The mounting services income --officials say more than half comes from leftist ally Venezuela-- has enabled Cuba to more or less balance its external finances in recent years despite a huge trade deficit that soared to $11.6 billion in 2008.
The National Statistics Office, in preliminary figures posted on its Web site (http://www.one.cu), reported 2008 service exports at $9.2 billion, up from $8.6 billion in 2007.