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US Eases More Sanctions on Trade With Cuba

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Cuba

Furthering efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, the United States Departments of Commerce and Treasury announced new amendments that would ease additional sanctions and allow for some U.S. exports to the Caribbean country, and possibly pave the way for apparel exports in the years ahead.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who traveled to Cuba on a “fact-finding” trip in October said the U.S. is working to ensure American regulatory changes are made to maximize the benefit to Cuban citizens.

“Today’s Commerce rule builds on previous changes by authorizing additional exports including for such purposes as disaster preparedness; education; agricultural production; artistic endeavors; food processing; and public transportation,” Pritzker said. “These regulatory changes will also facilitate exports that will help strengthen civil society in Cuba and enhance communications to, from and among the Cuban people.”

As of Wednesday, when the changes officially took effect, existing restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized exports and reexports to Cuba (except for agricultural items) were removed, allowing U.S. financial institutions to provide financing and letters of credit for those exports.

Before the amendment, cash-in-advance or third-country financing were the only acceptable forms for payment and financing but now sales on an open account of financing by U.S. banks will also be permitted.

For exports, license applications will “generally” be approved for commodities and software going to entities that strengthen civil society (like human rights organizations), gather and disseminate news, improve communications among Cuban citizens (like telecommunications items) and that ensure aviation safety (like aircraft).

Some license applications will also be approved on a case-by-case basis provided they go to state-owned enterprises and Cuban government organizations that provide goods and services to the people. Items for agricultural production, artistic endeavors (like creating or preserving cultural works), education and public health and sanitation could be considered under this amendment.

Most U.S. trade with Cuba is still banned under the economic embargo, though President Obama has been working to allow commerce that’s not explicitly banned.

Exports and reexports of items for government or state-owned enterprise use (like tourism) that just generate revenue for Cuba will still be subject to what the Commerce Department calls “a general policy of denial.”

Pritzker said, “Looking ahead, we will continue to support greater economic independence and increased prosperity for the Cuban people, as we take another step toward building a more open and mutually beneficial relationship between our two nations.”

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