cuba-flag_web.jpgHAVANA — Stiff new import taxes have been imposed that could substantially affect private entrepreneurs trying to get new businesses off the ground and many others who rely on informal shipments of merchandise from overseas.

Starting in September, Cubans who come in and out of the country more than once a year will have to pay the equivalent of $4.50 a pound or more for imports, in a country where salaries average the equivalent of about $20 a month.

Non-Cuban residents of the island, as well as Cuban Americans visiting relatives, would have to pay the new rates even if they make only one trip to the island.

About a quarter-million Cubans have started new businesses under free-market reforms instituted by President Raul Castro at the end of 2010.