The United States on Friday dramatically eased restrictions on imports of goods and services from private Cuban entrepreneurs as part of Washington's rapprochement with Havana after more than half a century of enmity.
The U.S. State Department said the import of all goods and services was now permissible except in certain broad categories, which include arms, live animals, tobacco, vehicles, mineral products, machinery, and some textiles and base metals.
"The administration had made it very clear they are changing the thrust of U.S. policy to allow the private sector in Cuba to blossom," said Pedro Freyre, chair of law firm Akerman LLP's international practice. "Of course there are two ends to this. We are still waiting to see how it is going to play out in Cuba."
Under Cuban law, private sector entrepreneurs cannot independently import and export products or services without a government license. However, artists are allowed to sell their work to foreigners, and there is also an exotic bird cooperative that obtained a license in 2013.
The goods that can now be imported exclude those specified in the following sections of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule:
Section I: Live Animals; Animal Products (all chapters);
Section II: Vegetable Products (all chapters)
Section III: Animal or Vegetable Fats and Oils and their Cleavage Products; Prepared Edible Fats; Animal or Vegetable Waxes (all chapters)
Section IV: Prepared Foodstuffs; Beverages, Spirits, and Vinegar; Tobacco and Manufactured Tobacco Substitutes (all chapters)
Section V: Mineral Products (all chapters)
Section VI: Products of the Chemical or Allied Industries (chapters 28-32; 35-36, 38)
Section XI: Textile and Textile Articles (chapters 51-52)
Section XV: Base Metals and Articles of Base Metal (chapters 72-81)
Section XVI: Machinery and Mechanical Appliances; Electrical Equipment; Parts Thereof; Sound Recorders and Reproducers, Television Image and Sound Recorders and Reproducers, and Parts and Accessories of Such Articles (all chapters)
Section XVII: Vehicles, Aircraft, Vessels, and Associated Transportation Equipment (all chapters)
Section XIX: Arms and Ammunition; Parts and Accessories Thereof (all chapters).
(Reporting David Adams, Marc Frank, Arshad Mohammed and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Sandra Maler)