OFAC ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO CUBA REGULATIONS

The Office of Foreign Assets Control has announced changes this week amending regulations restricting exports and facilitating authorized travel between Cuba and the United States. Changes include allowing entry of U.S. and foreign air carriers into Cuba in the form of code sharing and leasing arrangements to facilitate the provision of carrier services between Cuba and the U.S., including entry into such arrangements directly with Cuban airlines. The agreement also allows for the removal of restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized imports and exports except agricultural commodities and U.S. depository institutions, which will be allowed to provide Cuban financing. The United States will also be allowed to export and re-export other commodities, including software, telecom items and certain agricultural items. Restrictions on travel for professional meetings and public performances have been eased as well, although travel for tourist activities continues to be prohibited. This announcement follows actions by the U.S. State Department last month that allowed Cuba and the United States to reach a new bilateral air services agreement for air services after three days of technical talks on civil aviation held in Washington D.C. Immediately following the announcement, American Airlines, which has operated charter service to Cuba since 1991, announced plans to submit a U.S. – Cuba service proposal to the U.S. DOT to begin scheduled service from Miami International Airport and its other service hubs as early as next year. United Airlines, as well as JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines have also expressed interest in flying to Cuba as soon as all regulatory requirements are fulfilled.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).

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