Cuba

Doing Business With Cuba: What You Need to Know

Cuba is home to 11 million consumers and a growing private sector. Its proximity to the United States (the Port of Havana is only 198 nautical miles from the Port of Miami) makes the country a natural trade partner. While changes in policy over the last several years have unlocked new business opportunities in Cuba, there are still regulatory barriers that individuals and companies should be aware of.

U.S. Embargo

The United States imposed a comprehensive economic embargo on Cuba in the 1960’s which restricts most trade between the two countries. It also includes restrictions on travel and investment.

Although the U.S. faced pressure to end the embargo, the state of affairs remained largely unchanged until 2014.

In December 2014, President Obama made a historic announcement: “Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people.” By January 16, 2015, both the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended its Cuban Assets Control Regulations, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) amended the Export Administration Regulations with a “Support for the Cuban People” license exception. The license exception was most significant for travel, telecom, building materials and agricultural equipment, financial services, and personal importations.

OFAC and BIS issued additional new rules on January 16, 2015, September 21, 2015, January 27, 2016, March 15, 2016, October 14, 2016, November 9, 2017, and […]

By |2023-07-18T08:19:31-04:00July 18, 2023|Countries, Cuba|0 Comments

OFAC Sanctions & Licensing

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background on U.S. Sanctions (as of May, 2021)

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) administers a number of different sanctions programs. The purpose of U.S. sanctions programs is to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives and protect national security. Currently, OFAC administers 35 sanctions programs. These sanctions programs vary widely – some are comprehensive while others are highly selective.

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Building a Strong Export Compliance Plan

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Exporting is a Privilege, Not a Right

Over 95% of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States. Opportunities abound for U.S. companies that export. However, exporting is a privilege and not a right. U.S. exporters have an important responsibility to adhere to U.S. export control laws, including the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) sanctions laws, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Violations of export control laws carry hefty civil and criminal penalties. Exporters can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, lose export privileges, and even be imprisoned for violations of U.S. export control laws.

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Trump Administration Designates Cuba State Sponsor of Terrorism

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Cuba Designated a State Sponsor of Terror

The U.S. State Department designated Cuba a State Sponsor of Terrorism (“SST”) on January 11, 2021. Countries are designated on the SST list when they are determined by the U.S. Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.

The four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation can include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. Here, the January 11 re-designation of Cuba on the SST subjects Cuba to:

  • Sanctions that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba
  • Restricts U.S. foreign assistance to Cuba
  • Bans defense exports and sales to Cuba
  • Imposes certain controls on exports of dual use items.

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U.S.-Cuba Trade under Trump vs. Biden

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

U.S.-Cuba Trade under Trump

Since the early 1960s, the U.S. maintained a policy of economic sanctions towards Cuba. The U.S. policy sought to isolate the Cuban government. In 2014, the Obama administration significantly changed U.S. trade and economic policies towards Cuba by restoring diplomatic relations, rescinding Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror, and permitting increased trade between the two countries. This period was known as the Cuban Thaw.

However, under President Trump’s administration, the Obama administration’s efforts to normalize relations have been rolled back. In November 2017, the Trump administration restricted financial transactions with entities controlled by the Cuban government. Furthermore, many new entities have been added to the Cuba restricted list under the Trump administration. As of 2019, the Trump administration has more or less abandoned engagement with the Cuban government, and has opted instead to increase sanctions based on Cuba’s human rights violations and its support of the Venezuelan government under Nicolas Maduro.

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