U.S. eases restrictions on imports from private Cubans

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The United States yesterday dramatically eased restrictions on imports of goods and services from private Cuban entrepreneurs as part of Washington’s rapprochement with Havana after more than half a century of enmity.

The U.S. State Department said the import of all goods and services was now permissible except in certain broad categories, which include arms, live animals, tobacco, vehicles, mineral products, machinery, and some textiles and base metals. “The administration had made it very clear they are changing the thrust of U.S. policy to allow the private sector in Cuba to blossom,” said Pedro Freyre, chair of law firm Akerman LLP’s international practice. “Of course there are two ends to this. We are still waiting to see how it is going to play out in Cuba.”

Under Cuban law, private sector entrepreneurs cannot independently import and export products or services without a government license. However, artists are allowed to sell their work to foreigners, and there is also an exotic bird cooperative that obtained a license in 2013.

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