The government announced that it would be loosening restrictions on Americans’ ability to travel to Cuba, business transactions between the two countries and on Americans’ ability to purchase Cuban merchandise, including Cuban-made cigars.
Under the changes, which will take effect on Wednesday, Americans will now be able to legally buy Cuban-made cigars and liquor while in Europe and consume them there legally. Earlier changes have allowed Americans traveling legally to Cuba to return to the U.S. with $100 worth of Cuban cigars.
Individuals will be allowed to travel to Cuba under “people to people” educational trips. Until now, only groups of Americans were permitted to visit Cuba.
The announced changes will also provide Cubans greater access to U.S. financial institutions and the U.S. dollar and Cubans living legally in the U.S. will be able to earn salaries and stipends.
“Today’s steps build on the actions of the last 15 months as we continue to break down economic barriers, empower the Cuban people and advance their financial freedoms, and chart a new course in U.S.-Cuba relations,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement.
One major change will allow U.S. banks to process what are called U-turn transactions in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest. This will allow, for example, money to be transferred from a bank outside the U.S. to pass through one or more U.S. financial institutions before being transferred to a bank outside the U.S., the administration said.