New York, March 15, 2016 — Americas Society and Council of the Americas commend U.S. President Barack Obama's commitment to expand U.S. engagement with the Cuban people by releasing new regulatory changes that continue the process of normalizing relations with Cuba. The executive actions taking effect on March 16, 2016 will further ease sanctions related to people-to-people educational travel, banking, and financial services; travel and commerce; and grants and awards. In the absence of congressional action that lifts the trade embargo with Cuba, which is supported by the majority of Americans, the announced regulatory changes, together with the recently signed arrangement that restores scheduled air service between the United States and Cuba, facilitate deeper bilateral engagement.
“Every round of regulatory updates allows for a deepening of our business and cultural ties, paving the way toward full bilateral normalization, which we entirely support,” said AS/COA President and CEO Susan Segal. “We have worked for years for greater engagement between our two countries, and we applaud the administration’s commitment to continuing these reform efforts.”
“These latest changes, taken together with the previous rounds of amendments, continue to chip away at our outdated embargo toward Cuba,” said AS/COA Director of Policy and Head of the Cuba Working Group Alana Tummino. “The administration continues to make it easier for Americans to more fully engage with the Cuban people by making travel to the island more accessible, facilitating the hiring and payment of Cuban nationals for their work, permitting U.S. nationals to import a growing list of goods from entrepreneurs, and easing financial restrictions. This is significant.”
The regulatory changes come in the lead up to President Obama’s highly anticipated visit to the island. Over the last ten years, AS/COA has stood at the forefront of supporting U.S. policy opening, economic development, entrepreneurship, and engagement in Cuba.
AS/COA's Cuba Working Group (CWG) includes corporate leaders from the worlds of banking, financial services, energy, telecommunications, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, and law. Working group meetings look at the steps companies can take under current U.S. restrictions to pre-position themselves for future investment. This effort has produced a series of papers on regulations and laws affecting U.S. business activity under the U.S. embargo and in Cuba.