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President Obama Lifts Restrictions on Cuban Rum, Cigars

Obama and Raul Castro at their press conference in Havana on March 21, 2016. Photo:

Obama and Raul Castro at their press conference in Havana on March 21, 2016. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — In what could be his last effort to warm relations with Cuba, President Barack Obama today announced his approval of new regulations to facilitate business and trade.

One of the most significant actions was to rescind the ban on receiving cargo ships in U.S. ports for six months after having docked in Cuba. This provision could make much more viable the deep water port that the Castro government built with Brazilian funding at Mariel west of Havana.

Likewise, restrictions on the amount of rum and cigars, two important Cuban exports, will be lifted as of Monday, Oct. 17. The same goes for other products. Duties as normally applied to imports from other countries will still have to be paid, but the quantity allowed for personal use will lose its ceiling.

During the last period, imports from Cuba by travelers was limited to a value of $400, including $100 of rum and/or cigars.

The decision comes less than a month before the U.S. elections with the two candidates differing on the measures taken by Obama. Clinton is in favor of the administration policy, and Trump is now opposed until Cuba meets new demands.

Another area of interest is that now U.S. institutions and companies and Cuba will be able to carry out joint medical research.

“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,” noted the Miami Herald.

“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.”

Read more here.

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