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US Relaxes More Aspects of its Embargo on Cuba

US Relaxes More Aspects of its Embargo on Cuba
January 26, 2016

HAVANA TIMES — The US government today announced a further easing of
some aspects of its embargo on Cuba, which could facilitate travel,
trade and finance.

The new measures take effect on Wednesday, announced the US Departments
of Treasury and Commerce in a joint statement. The changes do not
signify a total lifting of the economic and commercial embargo on Cuba,
as only Congress can end the more than half century long policy.

The Obama administration announced that “restrictions on payment terms
and financing of authorized exports and re-exports to Cuba of goods will
be lifted, as well as on agricultural goods or commodities.”

In addition the policy change will facilitate travel to Cuba under the
allowed categories and make possible more air transport to the island.

Transactions with media professionals or artistic productions in Cuba
will now be allowed, noted the Departments of Treasury and Commerce. And
the list of permitted humanitarian projects will be extended to include
disaster preparedness and response.

“Today’s amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations build on
successive actions over the last year and send a clear message to the
world: the United States is committed to empowering and enabling
economic advancements for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
said in the statement.

The new measures easing the embargo are part of the process of
normalization of relations between the US and Cuba, announced in
December 2014. Washington and Havana resumed officially diplomatic
relations July 2015.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly asked the Republican-controlled
Congress, to lift the embargo on Cuba. But that has yet to happen.

The Cuban government maintains that there will be no normalization of
relations between the two countries until Washington lifts the embargo
on the island.

Read the complete Commerce Dept. announcement:

Commerce and Treasury Announce Further Amendments to the Cuba Sanctions
Regulations
Amendments Further Implement President Obama’s Policy Related to Easing
of Sanctions on Cuba
Jan 26, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Office of Public Affairs

202-482-4883
publicaffairs@doc.gov
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security
(BIS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets
Control (OFAC) are announcing new amendments to the Cuban Assets Control
Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR),
respectively. These amendments further implement the new direction
toward Cuba that President Obama laid out in December 2014. The changes
will take effect on January 27, 2016, when the regulations are published
in the Federal Register. The new amendments are outlined below.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said, “Today’s amendments to the
Cuban Assets Control Regulations build on successive actions over the
last year and send a clear message to the world: the United States is
committed to empowering and enabling economic advancements for the Cuban
people. We have been working to enable the free flow of information
between Cubans and Americans and will continue to take the steps
necessary to help the Cuban people achieve the political and economic
freedom that they deserve.”

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said, “Following the first
ever U.S.-Cuba Regulatory Dialogue and my fact-finding trip to Cuba in
October, we have been working tirelessly to maximize the beneficial
impact of U.S. regulatory changes on the Cuban people. 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. 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. 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.”

These amendments will remove existing restrictions on payment and
financing terms for authorized exports and reexports to Cuba of items
other than agricultural items or commodities, and establish a
case-by-case licensing policy for exports and reexports of items to meet
the needs of the Cuban people, including those made to Cuban state-owned
enterprises. These amendments will further facilitate travel to Cuba
for authorized purposes by allowing blocked space, code-sharing, and
leasing arrangements with Cuban airlines; authorizing additional
travel-related and other transactions directly incident to the temporary
sojourn of aircraft and vessels; and authorizing additional transactions
related to professional meetings and other events, disaster preparedness
and response projects, and information and informational materials,
including transactions incident to professional media or artistic
productions in Cuba.

To see the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31 Code of
Federal Regulations (CFR), part 515, please see here.

To see the Commerce regulations, which can be found at 15 CFR part 746,
please see here. Effective January 27, major elements of the changes in
the revised regulations include:

FINANCING
REMOVING FINANCING RESTRICTIONS FOR MOST TYPES OF AUTHORIZED EXPORTS.
Restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized exports and
reexports, except for agricultural commodities and agricultural items,
will be removed, and U.S. depository institutions will be authorized to
provide financing, including, for example, issuing a letter of credit
for such exports and reexports. Currently, payment and financing terms
for all authorized exports are restricted to cash-in-advance or
third-country financing. Effective January 27, 2016, examples of
permissible payment and financing terms for authorized non-agricultural
exports and reexports will include: payment of cash in advance; sales on
an open account; and financing by third-country financial institutions
or U.S. financial institutions. OFAC is required by statute to maintain
the existing limitations on payment and financing terms for the export
and reexport of agricultural commodities and agricultural items.

EXPORTS
ADDITIONAL AMENDMENTS TO INCREASE SUPPORT FOR THE CUBAN PEOPLE AND
FACILITATE AUTHORIZED EXPORTS.
Certain Additional Transactions Authorized. OFAC is expanding an
existing general license to authorize certain additional travel-related
transactionsas are directly incident to the conduct of market research;
commercial marketing; sales or contract negotiation; accompanied
delivery; installation; leasing; or servicing in Cuba of items
consistent with the export or reexport licensing policy of the
Department of Commerce, provided that the traveler’s schedule of
activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that
consistent with a full-time schedule.
Civil society. BIS will generally approve license applications for
exports and reexports of commodities and software to human rights
organizations or to individuals and non-governmental organizations that
promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba.
News gathering. BIS will generally approve license applications for
exports and reexports of commodities and software to U.S. news bureaus
in Cuba whose primary purpose is the gathering and dissemination of news
to the general public.
Telecommunications. BIS will generally approve license applications for
exports and reexports of telecommunications items that would improve
communications to, from, and among the Cuban people.
Agriculture. BIS will generally approve license applications for exports
and reexports of certain agricultural items (such as agricultural
commodities not eligible for a license exception; insecticides;
pesticides; and herbicides).
Civil aviation safety. BIS will generally approve license applications
for exports and reexports of items necessary to ensure the safety of
civil aviation and the safe operation of commercial aircraft engaged in
international air transportation, including the export or reexport of
such aircraft leased to state-owned enterprises.
Meeting the needs of the Cuban people. BIS is creating a case-by-case
licensing policy that will apply to exports and reexports of items to
meet the needs of the Cuban people, including exports and reexports for
such purposes made to state-owned enterprises and agencies and
organizations of the Cuban government that provide goods and services to
the Cuban people.
Examples of exports and reexports eligible for this licensing policy are
items for: agricultural production; artistic endeavors (including the
creation of public content, historic and cultural works and
preservation); education; food processing; disaster preparedness, relief
and response; public health and sanitation; residential construction and
renovation; public transportation; and the construction of
infrastructure that directly benefits the Cuban people (e.g., facilities
for treating public water supplies and supplying energy to the general
public).
A general policy of denial will still apply to exports and reexports of
items for use by state-owned enterprises, agencies, or other
organizations of the Cuban government that primarily generate revenue
for the state, including those in the tourism industry and those engaged
in the extraction or production of minerals or other raw materials.
Additionally, applications to export or reexport items destined to the
Cuban military, police, intelligence and security services remain
subject to a general policy of denial.

AIR CARRIER SERVICES
ADDITIONAL AMENDMENT TO FACILITATE CARRIER SERVICE BY AIR AND WITH CUBAN
AIRLINES.
The entry into blocked space, code-sharing, and leasing arrangements to
facilitate the provision of carrier services by air, including the entry
into such arrangements with a national of Cuba, will be authorized.

TRAVEL
EXPANDING AUTHORIZATIONS WITHIN EXISTING TRAVEL CATEGORIES TO FACILITATE
TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR ADDITIONAL PURPOSES.
Temporary Sojourn. Certain personnel who are operating or servicing
vessels or aircraft will be authorized to engage in travel-related and
other transactions in Cuba to facilitate the temporary sojourn of
aircraft and vessels as authorized by the Department of Commerce in
connection with the transportation of authorized travelers between the
United States and Cuba.
Information and informational materials. OFAC will authorize
travel-related and other transactions directly incident to professional
media or artistic productions of information or informational materials
for exportation, importation, or transmission, including the filming or
production of media programs (such as movies and television programs);
music recordings; and the creation of artworks in Cuba by persons that
are regularly employed in or have demonstrated professional experience
in a field relevant to such professional media or artistic
productions. OFAC will also be expanding an existing general license to
authorize transactions relating to the creation, dissemination, or
artistic or other substantive alteration or enhancement of informational
materials, including employment of Cuban nationals and the remittance of
royalties or other payments.
Professional meetings. OFAC will authorize by general license
travel-related and other transactions to organize professional meetings
or conferences in Cuba. The existing general license authorizes only
attendance at such meetings or conferences.
Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic, and other
competitions and exhibitions. Similar to the change to the professional
meetings category, OFAC will authorize by general license travel-related
and other transactions to organize amateur and semi-professional
international sports federation competitions and public performances,
clinics, workshops, other athletic or non-athletic competitions, and
exhibitions in Cuba. OFAC also will remove requirements that that U.S.
profits from certain events must be donated to certain organizations and
that certain events be run at least in part by U.S. travelers.
Humanitarian projects. OFAC will expand the list of authorized
humanitarian projects to include disaster preparedness and response.

Source: US Relaxes More Aspects of its Embargo on Cuba – Havana
Times.org – www.havanatimes.org/?p=116371

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