U.S. President Obama announced he is taking steps to end the US’ outdated approach with Cuba, promoting change that is consistent with U.S. support for the Cuban people and in line with U.S. national security interests.
Major elements of the President’s new approach include:
Establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba
The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were severed in January 1961.
In the coming months, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments as part of the normalization process. As an initial step, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs will lead the U.S. Delegation to the next round of U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks in January 2015, in Havana.
Facilitating an expansion of travel under general licenses for the 12 existing categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law
General licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in the following existing categories:
- family visits;
- official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations;
- journalistic activity;
- professional research and professional meetings;
- educational activities;
- religious activities;
- public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions;
- support for the Cuban people;
- humanitarian projects;
- activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes;
- exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
Travelers in the 12 categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law will be able to make arrangements through any service provider that complies with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing travel services to Cuba, and general licenses will authorize provision of such services.
Authorizing expanded commercial sales/exports from the United States of certain goods and services
The expansion will seek to empower the nascent Cuban private sector. Items that will be authorized for export include certain building materials for private residential construction, goods for use by private sector Cuban entrepreneurs, and agricultural equipment for small farmers. This change will make it easier for Cuban citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.
Authorizing American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba
Licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined.
A Fact Sheet has also been posted on the White House website.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) posted a frequently asked question (FAQ) in connection with the President’s announcement on changes to U.S. policy with respect to Cuba.
Questions about this regulatory update may be directed to Livingston’s U.S. Regulatory Affairs group .