HAVANA -- Real estate agents, auto body workers and home builders can come out of the shadows in Cuba's expanding private economy under rules announced Thursday that allow 18 new categories of independent employment under President Raul Castro's economic reforms.

Among the most notable of the newly allowed private professions are real estate agents, who have long operated on the margin of the law. Even after the communist government legalized the buying and selling of homes in 2011 for the first time in decades, it was still technically against the rules to make money connecting buyers with sellers.

The number of approved independent employment activities rises to 199 with the newly legalized professions, which also include rental agents, repair and maintenance service providers, iron workers and welders.

The decision to license the latest crop of professions came about because the country is now better positioned to supply "prime materials, equipment and other inputs to the network of stores," Labor Ministry official Jose Barreiro was quoted as saying by Communist Party newspaper Granma.

In all more than 430,000 private employment licenses have been issued since the reforms began in 2010, and 436,342 independent workers are currently operating, Granma said. Some were already working independently before the reforms began.

Critics have lamented that so far there has not been a push to let many educated professionals such as lawyers, health care workers or scientists work independently of the state.

Published into law Thursday in the government's Official Gazette, the new rules bar the resale of imported goods such as clothing.

Many entrepreneurs who operate under tailors' licenses appear to make more money selling garments brought into the country one overstuffed duffel bag at a time than they generate from actual sewing.

"I'm worried, disgusted and disconcerted," said Reina Margarita Moreira, who sells clothing and household items at a kiosk in central Havana. "We don't agree with this measure. ... We knew a change was coming and we thought they would modify the concept of the license and raise the taxes, but we never thought they would prohibit us from selling clothing brought in from abroad."

"I have children and grandchildren to support," said her colleague Diana Sanchez. "I feel really bad. Three years ago they let us work here legally, and now they forbid it. I don't understand it."

Mariela Carrera, a 45-year-old homemaker who was shopping at the open-air bazaar, said Cubans want to dress in international fashions and predicted that the measure would only push sales of imported clothing back into the black market.

"And the state isn't going to make any money off that if nobody's paying taxes," she said.

Also prohibited will be the "speculative" resale of goods bought in state-run retail stores.

"The issue of goods purchased in stores for resale has generated constant opinions among the people, who complain about shortages and the high prices set by the hoarders," Barreiro said.

"Order will be imposed, since nobody is allowed to buy merchandise in a state-run establishment and then speculate with it," he added.

Granma said it will be a crime to obtain merchandise "for the purpose of resale at a profit."

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  • In this picture taken on April 26, 2012, performers dance to live music at Casa de la Trova or House of Troubadours in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Music is an integral part of the Cuban culture. One doesn't have to travel far in the downtown section of Havana or Santiago, Cuba's second largest city, to hear the sounds of live music spilling out of nightclubs, bars and social clubs. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 26, 2012 photo shows performers dancing to live music at Casa de la Trova, house of troubadors, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Music is an integral part of Cuban culture, particularly in Santiago de Cuba, birthplace of composer Compay de Segundo, who was well known before, but became an international celebrity when the Ry Cooder film, "The Buena Vista Social Club" was released. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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  • In this picture taken Sunday April 22, 2012, young men and women dance in the front row during the Cuban National Baseball Series between the Holguin home team and the Havana-based Metropolitanos, a farm team of the better-known Industriales at the local stadium in Holguin, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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  • This April 24, 2012 photo shows young dance students performing for American visitors at the Jose Maria Heredia Vocational Arts school in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The school is dedicated to educating eight to 18 year-olds. Students identified as talented who live outside Santiago may attend. All students are provided free tuition, room and board. They may return home every other weekend to visit their families. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • In this picture taken on April 21, 2012, a young girl rides on a carousel of a street fair near the harbor in the seaside town of Gibara, Cuba. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

  • This April 26, 2012 photo shows performers dancing to live music at Casa de la Trova, house of troubadors, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Music is an integral part of Cuban culture, particularly in Santiago de Cuba, birthplace of composer Compay de Segundo, who was well known before, but became an international celebrity when the Ry Cooder film, "The Buena Vista Social Club" was released. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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  • In this picture taken on April 17, 2012, a woman sweeps her stoop beside a sign that reads in Spanish: "Long Live the CDR" in Havana, Cuba. The CDR or Committee for the Defense of the Revolution are neighborhood watch organizations that do everything from making sure that residents show up for the anniversary of the revolution to promoting vaccination campaigns, running blood banks, and conducting hurricane evacuation drills. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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  • In this Saturday April 21, 2012, residents seek shade beneath a sculpture of a sailfish in the seaside town of Gibara, Cuba, Saturday, April 21, 2012, during the annual international Cine Pobre, the Poor People's International cinema festival that is held in the town. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)