Cuba authorizes non-farm cooperatives

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba has formally authorized the creation of non-agricultural cooperatives, a measure that is expected to permit the growth of midsize businesses.

Such entities have not previously existed in Cuba, where the government has controlled nearly the entire economy for decades.

More than 200 co-ops will be established in an initial trial period in sectors such as transportation, construction, fishing and services.

The state will also lease out businesses such as restaurants and repair shops for employees to run cooperatively.

It's the latest step in President Raul Castro's plan to reform the economy through some liberalization measures.

The law took effect Tuesday with its publication in the government's Official Gazette.