Next week, it will be easier for people, money, and goods to flow between Cuba and the U.S., which announced a new round of relaxed sanctions Friday. The changes also allow U.S. companies to provide Internet and communications services in Cuba.
The new rules by the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Commerce will take effect Monday.
"This qualifies as huge," John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, tells NPR's Michele Kelemen. "We'll see what the Cubans do with it, but from the U.S. side, this is just unprecedented."
Michele reports for our Newscast unit:
"Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says a stronger more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for Americans and Cubans alike. The Commerce secretary says the goal is to support Cuba's emerging private sector.
"U.S. companies will be allowed to establish offices or warehouses in Cuba, as well as have joint ventures on the island. It will be easier for airlines and cruise ships to service Cuba, and regulations will be eased on software sales.
"John Kavulich says these moves could be difficult for Cuba to manage. Cuba would still have to ease its restrictions for U.S. businesses."
Here are some highlights of the new regulations, from the Treasury Department's statement issued Friday morning:
- Academic exchanges and joint non-commercial academic research with universities or academic institutions in Cuba will also be authorized.
- Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be allowed to establish a business presence in Cuba, including through joint ventures with Cuban entities, to provide certain telecommunications and internet-based services, as well as to enter into licensing agreements related to, and to market, such services.
- The limits on donative remittances to Cuban nationals other than prohibited Cuban Government or Cuban Communist Party officials, currently set at $2,000 per quarter, will be removed entirely. The limits on authorized remittances that individuals may carry to Cuba, previously $10,000 for persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction and $3,000 for Cuban nationals, will also be removed entirely.
- Banking institutions will be able to open and maintain accounts for Cuban individuals for use while the Cuban national is located outside of Cuba, and to close such accounts.
- Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in the following categories of authorized activities will be allowed to establish and maintain a physical presence, such as an office, retail outlet, or warehouse, in Cuba: news bureaus; exporters of certain goods authorized for export or reexport to Cuba by Commerce and OFAC, such as agricultural products and materials for construction or renovation of privately-owned buildings; entities providing mail or parcel transmission services or certain cargo transportation services; providers of telecommunications or internet-based services; entities organizing or conducting educational activities; religious organizations; and providers of carrier and certain travel services. These individuals and entities will also be authorized to employ Cuban nationals, open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba, and employ persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction in Cuba.