The United States has further eased restrictions on trade with its island neighbor, allowing American banks to start financing exports to Cuba. Financing the export of nearly all products, other than agricultural commodities, is now permitted under the change. Seen as a milestone in terms of thawing relationship between the neighbors, the move might jumpstart commerce between the two countries.
Until now, Cubans paid in advance in cash for every product they imported from the United States. From now on, they can buy time for payment.
Under the revised rules, the U.S. government might even approve the export of textbooks, construction cranes, or sanitation equipment.
Although President Barack Obama is doing everything he can to free Cubans from the shackles of sanctions, the U.S. Congress has remained reluctant to lift the embargo completely. Even the communist administration in Cuba does not seem to be fully freeing its private sector from doing business with foreign counterparts.
Some analysts say the action from Washington will remove some of Cuba’s biggest excuses for not opening its economy to trade with the United States. The Cuban government says, according to AP, the U.S. focus on private business is partly responsible for the island not opening its economy in response to the loosening of the embargo.
According to the New York Times, prohibitions would still apply to exports that would go directly to the Cuban military, the police, intelligence, or security services, as well as those that would generate revenue primarily for the state, such as sugar production.
Americans are still barred from visiting Cuba purely for the purpose of tourism, but they may have no need to seek permission for visiting the island for reasons such as journalism, filming movies and television programs, conducting market research and commercial marketing, and organizing professional meetings and sports events.