U.S. Companies Will Soon Be Able To Open Offices, Bank Accounts In Cuba

After a half century of travel and trade embargoes against Cuba, American businesses will soon be able to return the island nation and establish offices there. Today, the U.S. government announced a new slate of revised Cuba-related regulations that will ease restrictions on commerce and tourism.

Starting on Monday, according to the Treasury Dept.’s Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC], a variety of American business types “will be allowed to establish and maintain a physical presence, such as an office, retail outlet, or warehouse, in Cuba.”

Among the allowed types of businesses: news bureaus; exporters of authorized goods, including agricultural products and some construction materials; parcel services and certain cargo transportation services; providers of telecommunications or Internet-based services; educational and religious organizations; and certain travel services.

These U.S. businesses will also be allowed to hire Cuban citizens alongside their American employees, and have bank accounts in the country.

The revised restrictions also specifically allows for joint U.S.-Cuba ventures in the telecom/Internet field. Software applications developed in Cuba will be permitted for use and sale in the U.S.

Stateside, Cuban nationals will be able to open bank accounts at U.S. financial institutions.

The government is also making some new concessions for travel to and from Cuba. Visiting the country is still not going to be as simple as going to the airport and buying a ticket, but more so-called “authorized travelers,” will now be able to bring close relatives along with them. Previously, family was only permitted to come along for trips related to government business, educational travel, or visits to family members living in Cuba.

Today’s announcement adds “journalistic activity, professional research, and religious activities,” and humanitarian projects to the list of reasons for having your family travel with you.

“These regulatory changes build on the revisions implemented earlier this year and will further ease sanctions related to travel, telecommunications and internet-based services, business operations in Cuba, and remittances,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew in a statement. “A stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike.”

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