Obama Administration Takes Another Step to Ease Cuban Sanctions

November 2, 2016

On October 14, 2016, the U.S. Government announced changes to U.S. sanctions and export control rules for Cuba continuing the incremental easing of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Simultaneously, the President announced a new Presidential Policy Directive aiming to underpin the Obama Administration’s vision for normalizing relations with Cuba with government-wide guidance. However, the vision remains in important respects aspirational; statutory constraints on Cuba policy continue to limit the President’s ability to end the Cuban embargo. The new changes, effective as of October 17, 2016, provide further modest expansions of permitted activity in Cuba, particularly with respect to infrastructure projects, health care, and direct sales of consumer goods. They also continue OFAC’s efforts to provide guidance and remove practical obstacles to taking advantage of prior relief in travel, banking, and other activities.