On September 18, 2015, the US Departments of Treasury and Commerce announced further revisions to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations consistent with the continued opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba by the Obama Administration.
As Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew stated:
Today’s announcement underscores the Administration’s commitment to promote constructive change for the Cuban people. These regulatory changes build on the revisions implemented earlier this year and will further ease sanctions related to travel, telecommunications and internet-based services, business operations in Cuba, and remittances. A stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike. By further easing these sanctions, the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.
Key changes in the US-Cuba sanctions were made in the following areas:
- To facilitate authorized travel and commerce, increasing contact between Americans and Cubans, and supporting civil society in Cuba.
- To enhance the free flow of information to, from, and within Cuba, and to better provide efficient and adequate telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba.
Commercial and Financial Transactions
- To refocus sanctions to avoid preventing day-to-day transactions by Cuban individuals who are outside of Cuba.
Physical Presence and Operations in Cuba
- To facilitate certain authorized activities involving Cuba including setting up facilities and employing Cuban nationals.
Support for the Cuban People
- To improve living conditions, strengthening civil society, and supporting independent economic activity by the Cuban people.
- To empower Cubans with opportunities for self-employment, and in turn to strengthen independent civil society.
- To update the current legal services provisions, which provide for a general authorization for certain legal services to Cuba and Cuban nationals.
Civil Aviation Safety
- To support international aviation and passenger safety relating to license application for exports and re-exports to Cuba of certain items to help ensure safety of civil aviation operations.
- To allow certain gifts based on type and value of gift.
- To increase contact between Americans and Cubans and enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.
Ordinarily Incident Transactions
- To clarify the scope of authorized transactions to allow transactions ordinarily incident to authorized transactions.
Air Ambulances and Emergency Medical Services
- To facilitate access to emergency medical services.
- To facilitate aid to the Cuban people in times of need and to preserve Cuban history.
Supporting Diplomatic Relations
- To support the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba by expanding general license with respect to Cuban admission in the United States.
These changes further implement the historic thawing of relations between the US and Cuba, and likely will be followed by further changes in the coming months.