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Maritime Law--Further Easing of U.S. Cuba Sanctions Regulations

On September 18, 2015, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Commerce announced additional revisions to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  The changes take effect on Monday, September 21, 2015, as published in the Federal Register. 



These measures are intended generally to do the following: 
 
  • to further facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes;
  • expand the telecommunications and internet-based services general licenses, including by authorizing certain persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction (which includes individuals and entities) to establish a business presence in Cuba, such as through subsidiaries or joint ventures;
  • allow certain persons to establish a physical presence, such as an office or other facility in Cuba to facilitate authorized transactions;
  • allow certain persons to open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba to use for authorized purposes;
  • authorize additional financial transactions, including those related to remittances;
  • authorize all persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to provide goods and services to Cuban nationals located outside of Cuba; and
  • allow a number of other activities, including those related to legal services, imports of gifts, and educational activities. 

These amendments also implement certain technical and conforming changes. Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations involving travel, transportation and legal services include the following:

​Transportation by vessel of authorized travelers – between the United States and Cuba only and without stops in third countries – will be authorized by general license.  Certain related lodging services aboard vessels used for such travel will also be authorized. 

License Exception Aircraft, Vessels, and Spacecraft (AVS) will authorize temporary sojourns to Cuba of certain categories of vessels.  Eligible categories of vessels are cargo vessels for hire for use in the transportation of items; passenger vessels for hire for use in the transportation of passengers and/or items; and recreational vessels that are used in connection with travel authorized by the Treasury.

License Exception AVS will authorize aircraft on temporary sojourn to remain in Cuba for up to 7 consecutive days and authorizes vessels on temporary sojourn to remain in Cuba for up to 14 consecutive days.

Close relatives will be allowed to visit or accompany authorized travelers for certain additional activities.  In the January changes, OFAC permitted close relatives to join visits related to official government business and certain educational activities, and to visit additional family members residing in Cuba.  Close relatives now also will be allowed to visit or accompany authorized travelers for additional educational activities, journalistic activity, professional research, and religious activities, as well as activities related to humanitarian projects and activities of private foundations or certain research or educational institutes.  For purposes of this provision, a close relative is defined as someone related to a person by blood, marriage, or adoption – and who is no more than three generations removed from that person or a common ancestor with that person. 

All authorized travelers will be allowed to open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba in order to access funds for authorized transactions while in Cuba. 

Physical Presence and Operations in Cuba –

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction engaging in the following categories of authorized activities will be allowed to establish and maintain a physical presence, such as an office, retail outlet, or warehouse, in Cuba: news bureaus; exporters of certain goods authorized for export or re-export to Cuba by Commerce and OFAC, such as agricultural products and materials for construction or renovation of privately-owned buildings; entities providing mail or parcel transmission services or certain cargo transportation services; providers of telecommunications or internet-based services; entities organizing or conducting educational activities; religious organizations; and providers of carrier and certain travel services.  These individuals and entities will also be authorized to employ Cuban nationals, open and maintain bank accounts in Cuba, and employ persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction in Cuba.

​License Exception Support for the Cuban People (SCP) will authorize certain exports and reexports of items to Cuba for use in establishing, maintaining, and operating a physical presence in Cuba.  Eligible end-users of the items include certain persons providing telecommunications or internet-based services; establishing telecommunications facilities; providing travel or carrier services; organizing or conducting educational activities; or transporting authorized items between the United States and Cuba.

Certain temporary reexports from a foreign country to Cuba will be authorized by License Exception SCP when the items are for use in scientific, archeological, cultural, ecological, educational, historic preservation, sporting activities, or in the traveler’s professional research and meetings.  Previously, this provision was limited to temporary exports by persons departing the United States.

Certain commodities and software for use in software development may be exported or re-exported to eligible end-users in Cuba pursuant to License Exception SCP.

License Exception SCP will authorize temporary exports and reexports to Cuba of additional categories of items, including certain tools of trade to install, service, or repair items; and certain commodities and software for exhibition or demonstration.

OFAC’s existing general license authorizing the provision of certain legal services to Cuba and Cuban nationals will be expanded to allow the receipt of payment for such services. Certain limitations will apply, related to payments from prohibited Cuban Government or Cuban Communist Party officials.  Additionally, a new general license will authorize persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to receive, and make payment for, certain legal services from Cuba or Cuban nationals.

A case-by-case review policy will apply to license applications for exports and re-exports to Cuba of items to help ensure the safety of civil aviation and the safe operation of commercial passenger aircraft.  Items that are to be reviewed pursuant to this policy include aircraft parts and components; software and technology related to safety of flight; air traffic control, aviation communications, and aviation weather related equipment; airport safety equipment; and devices used for security screening of passengers and baggage.

​Under an expanded general license, additional educational activities involving Cuba and Cuban nationals, including the provision of standardized testing services and internet-based courses, will be authorized.  Academic exchanges and joint non-commercial academic research with universities or academic institutions in Cuba will also be authorized.  Travel-related transactions in connection with these activities will also be authorized.

The provision of air ambulance and other related emergency medical services to travelers in Cuba will be authorized by general license, and a general license will clarify that the provision of nonscheduled emergency medical services to Cuban nationals in the United States is authorized.

To see the announcement in the Federal Register, please see here => FR-2015-09-21/pdf/2015-23587.pdf​. Now it is up to the Cuban government as to whether they will go along with these expanded rights.
 
If you are interested in communicating with me, you may do so via this blog or at lawofficesofmov@gmail.com.

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