Havana CubaAs tensions between Cuba and the United States continue to thaw, President Obama made a historic announcement today – the U.S. and Cuba will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals. This could prove a watershed moment in the push to normalize relationships between the two countries. Estimates are that the embassies will open by month end, with Secretary of State John Kerry traveling to Cuba for the official opening. This development echoes White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s response to his first ever question taken from a Cuban reporter last May – that the White House hoped the two countries would reopen embassies.
Continue Reading U.S. and Cuba Agree to Open Embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C.

Flag of CubaThe U.S. Department of State rescinded Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism today.  While the rescission of Cuba’s designation eliminates a major hurdle in restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba remains in effect, including its restrictions on investment, trade, and travel with Cuba.  Congress has the sole authority to lift the trade embargo.

Rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, however, will affect companies and individuals the following ways:
Continue Reading Cuba Designation as State Sponsor of Terrorism Rescinded

Flag of CubaWhile Iran has taken center stage in current foreign policy discussions, Congress and the Administration are keenly aware that Cuba is on deck. Following President Obama’s historic meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro and his announcement of intent to remove Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, members of Congress have responded by introducing bills both supporting and opposing the President’s policies, including:

Continue Reading Lawmakers Continue Taking Sides on Cuba while Cities Begin Taking Action

immigrationAs part of the proposed warming of relations with Cuba, USCIS has announced changes to Cuban family-based immigration policy.  U.S.  immigration policy toward Cuba differs from policy applicable to other countries.  Under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans who enter the United States have a special track to permanent residency.  Further, under the Cuban Family Reunification

obama12223245855_9dcc9616ac_n-1President Obama’s announcement to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba has created a flood of momentum for U.S. companies hoping to open new business markets there; however, business owners should spend the time now to learn the legal and regulatory framework they will encounter in Cuba, and the steps they can take immediately to be ready when opportunities arise.

Continue Reading Move Quickly to Register Trademarks in Cuba

Flag of CubaOn March 24, 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) updated the Specially Designated National (SDN) List by removing 59 companies, individuals, and vessels previously blocked under the Cuban Assets Control Regulations.  The companies removed include those from the United States, Panama, and Cuba.  The SDN List is maintained by OFAC and identifies certain individuals and companies that are owned or controlled by or act on behalf of targeted countries or terrorist groups.  U.S. citizens and permanent residents are generally prohibited from doing business with individuals or companies appearing on the SDN List.
Continue Reading OFAC Updated SDN List Removing Individuals and Companies associated with Cuba

North America MapAfter more than a half-century, the U.S. has finally taken steps toward normalizing its relations with Cuba. In a series of executive actions on December 17, 2014, President Obama announced changes to existing regulations that will ease sanctions against Cuba.

U.S. and Cuban officials will meet on February 27, 2015 at the State Department to continue talks of restoring ties and ending the embargo. Likely sticking points will be the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba’s continuing appearance on the U.S. list of countries that support and sponsor terrorism, the potential return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, and U.S. support for Cuban political dissidents.

The executive actions alone however offer various opportunities for U.S. and Cuban businesses. This is particularly true in industries such as telecommunications and agriculture where technological and scientific advances could lead to improved infrastructure and increased production.

Continue Reading U.S.-Cuba Relations

At the request of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched an investigation to study the economic effects of the statutory and administrative restrictions related to trade with and travel to Cuba on exports of U.S. goods and services.  This investigation follows President Obama’s December 17, 2014 announcement to ease economic and travel restrictions against Cuba.

The USITC report will contain:

  1. A ten-year overview of Cuba’s imports of goods and services, identifying major countries, products, and market segments;
  2. A description of how U.S. restrictions on trade affect Cuban imports of U.S. goods and services; and
  3. An estimate of U.S. exports of goods and services to Cuba should the U.S. lift statutory, administrative, and other trade restrictions on U.S. exports of goods and services and travel to Cuba.

Continue Reading USITC Investigates Economic Effects of U.S. Restrictions on Trade with Cuba

Flag of CubaThe U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce today announced new regulations intended to significantly loosen the embargo imposed against Cuba in 1963.  The changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), will go into effect on January 16, 2015, when the rules are published in the Federal Register.  The new rules are part of the implementation of the Obama Administration’s policy shift concerning Cuba, which was announced by President Obama on December 17, 2014.
Continue Reading Obama Administration Releases Regulations Easing Cuba Sanctions

On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced a major easing of travel and economic restrictions against Cuba as a result of landmark deal between the United States and Cuba. In his remarks, President Obama announced a number of measures which seek to “end an outdated approach . . .” and  “chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and . . . further engage and empower the Cuban people.”

While only Congress can formally overturn the U.S. embargo which has been in place since 1961, the White House has taken some action within its executive powers to liberalize trade and travel to Cuba.  Key components of the Administration’s updated policy approach include the following:

Continue Reading Obama Administration Announces Historic Change in Cuba Trade and Travel Policy