Cuba Announces Ease of US Economic Restrictions

HAVANA, Jan 17 (NNN-Prensa Latina) — The implementation of new U.S. measures regarding Cuba was reported today by Granma newspaper, stating that Washington is still maintaining the economic, commercial and financial blockade on the island.

A note published by Granma states that the U.S. government announced yesterday, January 15, that as of today, January 16, the measures announced by President Barack Obama on December 17, 2014, which eliminate some restrictions to trade and travel for certain categories of Americans to Cuba will come into force.

According to the information released by the Cuban Communist Party’s official daily, a preliminary reading of the regulations issued by the Departments of the Treasure and Commerce, states that those measures change the application of some aspects of the blockade on Cuba.

Although the total prohibition on travel to Cuba is not suppressed, which requires the Congress’ approval, some restrictions on travel of US citizens and permanent residents in the country included within 12 authorized categories are eliminated, states the note.

Among others is to eliminate limits of costs that U.S. travelers can perform in Cuba and allows them to use credit cards and debit cards, and authorizes airlines and travel agencies organize tours and hire services from insurance companies.

However, the measure that U.S. citizens can travel to Cuba by sea was not approved, the document said.

On the other hand, among the measures announced is that the limit on remittances will increase from $500 to $2,000 USD quarterly.

Restrictions on U.S. exports to Cuba, especially high-tech products are kept, except for limited sales of building materials, equipment and agricultural implements that will allow for individuals, apparently through Cuban companies.

The note issued in Granma stresses that the exports of Cuban products to U.S. market will continue prohibited, except for a limited number that U.S. visitors could bring back to their country, by a value not exceeding $400 USD, of which $100 USD in snuff and rum.

Telecommunications were widely discussed in the regulations, in line with the objectives of the U.S. policy of trying to increase its influence in the Cuban society, stresses an article published in Granma.

On this basis, the info-communications sector is the only one authorized to invest in infrastructure and sell services to state enterprises, software, devices and equipment, although not high-tech products.

Moreover, U.S. financial institutions are allowed to open accounts in Cuban banks for transactions that are authorized between both countries. But there is a reciprocal treatment; our banks could not do the same in the United States, Granma states.

Those regulations do not modify the existing strong restrictions for maritime transportation, although from this moment on, ships carrying food, medicines, medical equipment and materials for emergency situations from third countries to Cuba, will not have to wait 180 days to come into American ports, as usual.

In the article released in Granma highlights that key aspects of the blockade policy affecting Cuba were unchanged, including the use of the U.S. dollar in our international financial transactions, the purchase in other markets of equipment and technology containing more than 10 percent of U.S. components, the possibility of trading with subsidiaries from U.S. companies in third countries, and imports by the United States of goods containing Cuban raw materials.

According to the report issued in the Cuban official daily, the measures announced are a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go to dismantle many other aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade through the use of the executive prerogatives by the President, and so the U.S. Congress ends this policy once and for all.


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