The Obama administration’s decision to lift restrictions on U.S.-Cuba relations Wednesday will drive a wave of American tourism and boost cash flows to the island. But the warming diplomatic ties won’t unleash a surge of imports and exports between the nations, given that Havana’s restrictive policies still make it tough for foreign and national companies to do business in Cuba, analysts say.
“We’re not looking at a large impact on Cuba,” said Christopher Sabatini, senior policy director at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York. “For the U.S. economy, these changes will be minimal, too.”
President Barack Obama said Washington would loosen a series of restrictions on travel, remittances and exports to Cuba, though the broader embargo against Havana, enacted in 1962, remains in place. “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” the president said in a national address.
The U.S. opened up a handful of additional categories for travel to communist Cuba, allowing Americans to obtain licenses for business, family, religious, educational and humanitarian visits to the country. Sabatini said those changes could help double or triple American visits to Cuba, delivering a significant boost to the island’s $2.6 billion tourism industry....