US re­moves lim­its on Cuban rum, cigars

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS -

THE OBAMA ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced on Fri­day that it is elim­i­nat­ing a US$100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that Amer­i­can trav­ellers can bring back from the is­land.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion is also lift­ing lim­its on cargo ship travel be­tween the US and Cuba and eas­ing United States 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 six sets of changes loos­en­ing the US trade em­bargo on Cuba in the hopes that the nor­mal­i­sa­tion of re­la­tions with the is­land will not be re­versed by a fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tion. This round is ex­pected to be the last be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama leaves of­fice.

Cuban rum and cigars will now be sub­ject to the same du­ties as al­co­hol and tobacco from other coun­tries, mean­ing most trav­ellers 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 US$100 apiece out­side Cuba, ev­ery US trav­eller 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 trav­ellers to a com­bined value of US$100 in rum and cigars, al­though en­force­ment of the limit no­tably de­clined af­ter Pres­i­dent Barack Obama de­clared de­tente with Cuba on De­cem­ber 17, 2014.

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