Relaxed US-Cuba Trade Rules Present Unprecedented Opportunities

But embargo, political realities still pose obstacles

BY Doug Chartier

LAW WEEK COLORADO

With relations between the U.S. and Cuba thawing out, the Obama administration has been chipping away at the Cuba embargo with administrative regulatory changes. Trade and travel restrictions have now been eased to a point where more and more American entrepreneurs may be wondering if they can now expand their enterprise into the Cuban market, which has been largely inaccessible to them for more than 50 years.

Building upon changes issued Jan. 16, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce announced further amendments to U.S.-Cuba trade and travel rules that took effect Sept. 21. The new allowances include the ability to travel directly from the U.S. to Cuba, and all authorized travelers can now open and maintain a bank account in Cuba.

Those two provisions alone improve the prospects of American enterprises that can do business in the Caribbean nation, which currently include those in the categories of agriculture, health care, construction, telecommunications and renewable energy. The Treasury and Commerce Departments also lifted some industry-specific restrictions regarding U.S.-Cuba commerce.

The largest expansion was granted to the U.S. telecommunications industry, from which companies can now establish joint ventures with Cuban entities to provide telecommunications and internet products and services. The U.S. government also expanded the types of communications devices that can be exported to Cuba as well as the provision of training related to installing, repairing or replacing those products.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the October 5, 2015 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.