U.S. Economic Sanctions: United States Eases Elements of Cuban Embargo; New Regulations Issued by U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments Implement Cuban Policy Changes Announced in December

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - January 26, 2015

Effective January 16, 2015, the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) issued regulations revising the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”) and the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), respectively, in order to implement U.S. policy changes towards Cuba announced by the Obama Administration on December 17, 2014. 

The changes are targeted to further engage and empower the Cuban people.  Although these regulations have eased certain elements of the Cuban embargo, particularly in the areas of travel, telecommunications, remittances, certain financial services and support for the Cuban people, the changes are incremental and the Cuban embargo, which also has been codified into law by various statutes enacted since the embargo was first adopted, remains in place.  Transactions between the United States, or persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Cuba generally remain prohibited unless authorized or exempt. The changes are very detailed and technical, and despite the Obama Administration’s new policy towards Cuba, care must be taken to ensure that any activity undertaken in reliance on the new authorizations strictly conforms to the terms and conditions of the regulations.