When can you start trading with Cuba? Not just yet!

President Obama

U.S. President Obama

On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced significant changes to U.S. foreign relations with Cuba. They included:

  • Plans to re-establish US-Cuba diplomatic relations after a 50+-year break;
  • Eased restrictions on travel to Cuba by specified categories of US persons;
  • Opportunities for travelers to import up to US$400 worth of goods from Cuba;
  • Export of U.S. building materials and agricultural equipment to Cuba. This will add to the limited list of U.S. goods already permitted for export to Cuba;
  • Provision of banking and credit/debit card services by U.S. institutions in Cuba to support these commercial and travel activities.

The U.S. embargo against Cuba has not, however, been lifted! So, travel to and trading with Cuba is still restricted. The commercial and travel activities currently require approval or licensing. President Obama’s policy change will require updated regulations to pre-approve and/or to regulate these transactions.These regulations will be developed and issued by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the US Department of Commerce. Here is what OFAC has to say about implementing the policy changes:

OFAC will implement the Treasury-specific changes via amendments to its Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The Department of Commerce will implement the remainder of the changes via amendments to its Export Administration Regulations.  OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming weeks.  None of the announced changes takes effect until the new regulations are issued.

So, when can you start trading with Cuba? When OFAC says so! More information on what to expect is also available here.