President Obama, Treasury Department widen Cuba trade

As part of the Obama administration‘s effort to strengthen ties to and expand rapprochement with Havana, the U.S. Department of the Treasury swept away long-standing limitations on classic Cuban products, namely cigars and rum.

In a broad stroke across five areas, the Treasury Department announced amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) on Friday.

In announcing the changes to existing Cuban policy, President Obama said:

“Challenges remain – and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights – but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values.”

In the field of health-related transactions, the new amendments now permit U.S. nationals to cooperate on joint medical research projects with Cuban nationals; will allow the approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of importation of pharmaceuticals from Cuba; and permit banking transactions for health-related business.

Additionally, humanitarian-related transactions such as authorization for grants, scholarships, and awards to Cuba or Cuban nationals will be expanded and persons providing material or services to develop, repair, maintain, and enhance certain Cuban infrastructure is expanded under the new policy.

Similarly, for the purposes of travel, the previous value limitation on alcohol and tobacco products for personal use are lifted.

Regarding civil aviation,  U.S. persons are now allowed to provide civil aviation safety-related services to Cuba and Cuban nationals for the purpose of promoting civil-aviation safety and the safe operation of commercial aircraft.

Last, in the realm of trade and commerce, previous restrictions on some consumer goods available online for personal use to Cubans is eased and restrictions on air cargo to Cuba is widened.

The easing on restriction will commence on Oct. 17.


[RT News] [Photo courtesy AP via Washington Times]