The Obama administration Friday issued what could be its final set of regulations designed to exchange business and trade between the United States and Cuba.
The new rules allow Cubans and Americans to engage in joint medical research and lifts monetary limits on the amount of Cuban products Americans can bring back in their luggage for personal use. Currently the limit is $400, which included a combined $100 of alcohol and tobacco products. Now U.S. travelers can bring back as many cigars and bottles of rum as they like – as long as they are for personal use and they pay the duties and taxes that would normally apply.
There will no longer be monetary limits on such products purchased in third countries that come into the United States as accompanied baggage.
In a move that is expected to facilitate trade between the two countries, the Office of Foreign Assets Control also will lift a restriction that prohibited foreign ships from entering a U.S. port to load or unload cargo for a period of 180 days after calling on a Cuban port.
The changes take effect Monday when the regulations are published in the Federal Register.
This is the sixth set of trade, travel and business rules issued by the Obama administration since a rapprochement between the United States and Cuba began on Dec. 17, 2014.
“President Obama’s historic announcement in December 2014 charted a new course for a stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “The Treasury Department has worked to break down economic barriers in areas such as travel, trade and commerce, banking, and telecommunications. Today’s action builds on this progress by enabling more scientific collaboration, grants and scholarships, people-to-people contact, and private sector growth. These steps have the potential to accelerate constructive change and unlock greater economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans.”
The new rules also expand the opportunities for Cubans to receive grants and scholarships to study in the United States, streamline some previous trade authorizations and allow U.S. nationals to provide services to Cuba or Cuban nationals related to developing, repairing, maintaining and enhancing Cuban infrastructure in order to directly benefit the Cuban people.
“These amendments will create more opportunities for Cuban citizens to access American goods and services, further strengthening the ties between our two countries,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “More commercial activity between the U.S. and Cuba benefits our people and our economies.”