U.S. Eases Some Restrictions on Trade with Cuba

As the United States and Cuba continue talks to improve relations between the two countries, the Obama Administration has issued new regulations which took effect on September 21st, 2015.  President Obama, during a recent speech at the United Nation’s General Assembly said, “For 50 years, the United States pursued a Cuba policy that failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people.  We changed that.  We continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue to stand up for human rights.  But we address these issues through diplomatic relations, and increased commerce, and people-to-people ties.  As these contacts yield progress, I’m confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore.”

As the Cuban Central News reports, through Reuters, the new regulations include:

  • Allowing U.S. companies to establish offices in Cuba
  • Permiting  joint ventures between U.S. and Cuban firms and establishing subsidiaries with Cuba
  • Making it easier for airlines and cruise ships to import parts and technology to Cuba to improve the safety of their operations

In addition U.S. telecommunications companies will be allowed to open offices and bank accounts in Cuba. Verizon Wireless announced that, the company will offer communication, including text, data and calls to any of their customers who travel to Cuba. Also, people in the U.S and Cuba will able to send each other mail, including letters and packages, for the first time since 1963. Previously, mail had to go through other countries such as Mexico and Canada.

Talks regarding direct and commercial flights between U.S and Cuba are still in the process, with hopes that they will be established next year. Their bilateral agreement on flights has not been revised since 1953. According to the Christian Science Monitor, more goals include: “Counternarcotic cooperation that goes beyond Coast Guard interdiction efforts to include Drug Enforcement Agency partnering with its Cuban counterpart; joint environmental work involving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and progress on setting up maritime passenger routes.”

However, there is still a long way to go to end the embargo on Cuba. President Obama has urged business people to pressure Congress to lift the embargo. The Obama Administration expects to fully normalize the relationship with Cuba before its departure from office in January 2017.

More links and news on the easing of restrictions:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/travel/cuba-vacations.html

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2015-23587.pdf