Cuba’s economy is hurting badly, so much so that they are cutting back on food and agriculture imports from the U.S. “Crippling economic malaise” is how the Associated Press describes the situation down south.

Even though the U.S. is still the largest seller of food to Cuba, the communist nation is now turning to counties like Vietnam for cheaper, albeit “lower-quality” food imports and who also offer longer payment terms, according to the AP.

Food and agriculture goods have been exempt from the Cuban embargo since 1960.

A report from the non-partisan U.S.-Cuba Economic Trade Council details the slide in imports from the U.S. to Cuba, revealing a 26 percent drop in imports from 2008 to 2009, from $710 million to $528 million respectively. The AP says imports to Cuba from Venezuela, China, and Spain are down as well.

Also of note: sales of Cuban cigars are also falling, off eight percent in 2009 says Habanos S.A.

“The U.S. market, the largest in the world with 230 to 250 million cigars smoked annually, is off limits to Habanos due to the U.S. trade embargo imposed against Cuba since 1962,” a Reuters article reminds us.