US further eases trade, travel restrictions on Cuba

Washington, United States (AFP) — The United States further eased restrictions on business and travel with Cuba Friday, as it presses forward in rebuilding long-frozen relations with its former Cold War foe.

Two months after formally restoring diplomatic relations with Havana, the US made it easier for Americans to establish and operate businesses in Cuba, increased remittance limits, and widened travel opportunities to the Caribbean island nation.

The new moves further break down the sanctions that were in place since the early 1960s until President Barack Obama reversed course by announcing an opening to the communist country last December. The first easing of US sanctions was in January.

The changes issued by the Treasury and Commerce Departments removed limits on remittances from the United States to Cuba, as well as on the amount of money people hand-carry to Cuba.

Authorized US travellers to Cuba will be able to open bank accounts there, to form joint ventures with Cuban firms, open offices, warehouses, and retail outlets.

“A stronger, more open US-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

“By further easing these sanctions, the United States is helping to support the Cuban people in their effort to achieve the political and economic freedom necessary to build a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.”

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