US Removes Restriction Limits on Cuban Cigars
Friday, the Obama Administration announced that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban Cigars and Rum that American travelers can bring back from the island.
The administration is also lifting limits on cargo ship travel between the US and Cuba and easing US and Cuban researchers’ ability to conduct joint medical research. The measures are contained in a new round of regulatory changes meant to ease US trade with Cuba.
The Obama Administration has now made 6 sets of changes loosening the US trade embargo on Cuba in the hopes that the normalization of relations with the island nation will not be reversed by a future administration. This round is expected to be the last before President Barack Hussein Obama leaves office.
Cuban cigars and rum will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most travelers will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum.
Because high-end Cuban cigars can sell for more than $100 apiece outside Cuba, every US traveler can now legally bring back many thousands of dollars of Cuban products, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new annual revenue for the Cuban state.
The change does not mean that Cuban rum and cigars will be available for sale in the US the change is aimed at tobacco and alcohol brought home for personal use.
The previous limit restricted travelers to a combined value of $100 in rum and cigars, although enforcement of the limit notably declined after President Barack Hussein Obama declared detente with Cuba on 17 December 2014.
Rum and cigar production is entirely government-run under Cuba’s centrally planned communist economy. While the first regulatory changes focused narrowly on helping Cuba’s growing private sector.
Friday’s new rules are almost entirely aimed at similarly state-run industries including shipping and medical products.
A senior Obama administration official said the new regulations’ focus on Cuban state enterprise should not be interpreted as a shift away from helping ordinary Cubans.”
More than 160,000 American travelers visited Cuba last year and that figure is expected to double this year. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans visit family on the island each year and will also be able to take advantage of the new measure, which comes a 1.5 months before the restart of commercial flights to Havana after more than 50 years.
Have a terrific weekend.
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