The Obama Administration got rid of the $100 cap on Cuban cigars and rum that U.S. tourists can bring back from Cuba Friday.
Americans will now be free as of Monday to buy as many cigars and bottles of rum they want while visiting the communist island, as long as it is for their own use and not for resale. Removing the $100 purchasing cap on two of Cuba’s most well-known products was part of a larger round of talks between the U.S. and Cuba to promote better relations.
While U.S. travelers can now buy more cigars in Cuba, American consumers are still unable to legally buy them online. The shift in U.S. policy is “a significant step,” Cuban official Josefina Vidal, head of U.S. affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. firms can now also import Cuban pharmaceuticals because of policy changes at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“Challenges remain – and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights – but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values,” President Barack Obama said of his policy shift.
Even though Americans cannot buy famed Cuban products online, the departments of Commerce and Treasury now let Cubans buy U.S. goods online. It will now also be easier for U.S. and Cuban medical professionals to cooperate and jointly conduct research.
The U.S. normalized relations with Cuba via executive order in December 2014. Normalization of ties means that the two countries reopened embassies in one another’s countries. While the U.S. Embassy is now open in Havana as is a Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C., the Obama Administration is waiting for the Senate to approve a nominee for ambassador.
The U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba remains, but the Obama Administration has worked around it via executive order. Congressional approval is needed to lift the embargo, something the Obama Administration is not expected to get.
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