Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New U.S. rules allow infrastructure projects, movie shoots in Cuba

New U.S. rules allow infrastructure projects, movie shoots in Cuba

The United States approved a wider range of commerce with Cuba on
Tuesday, making it easier for U.S. companies to film movies, finance
exports and do business with the Communist government on public
infrastructure projects.

The latest changes come as Washington and Havana move closer toward
normal relations, having restored diplomatic relations last year after
more than five decades of Cold War-era animosity.

Although most U.S. trade with Cuba remains banned under the economic
embargo, President Barack Obama has been using executive authority to
allow commerce that is not specifically banned by Congress.

The changes announced on Tuesday, the third round of such measures,
reflect Washington's stated goal of meeting the needs of the Cuban
people while also creating business opportunities for U.S. companies.

U.S. officials stressed that the practical impact will depend on Cuban
economic liberalization, as previous U.S. attempts at promoting commerce
have largely stalled. Cuba in turn has complained about the lack of
credits and a ban on using the U.S. dollar.

U.S. banks may now finance authorized exports except for agricultural
commodities and reexports of non-U.S. goods. Previously such trade had
to be paid for by cash in advance or financed through third-country banks.

The new rules would also allow U.S. companies on a case-by-case basis to
be involved in the construction of infrastructure deemed as directly
beneficial to the Cuban people.

A Treasury Department statement mentions water treatment and supplying
energy as examples. Cuba has a host of infrastructure needs following
decades of U.S. sanctions and the fall of the Soviet Union, its longtime
former benefactor.

"They are basically saying we are opening the door to allow for approval
if you want to sell to a state-owned enterprise," said James Williams,
president of Engage Cuba, a Washington-based group promoting trade with

However, a general policy of denying licenses will apply to exports for
use by state-owned entities that primarily generate revenues for the
Cuban government and for use by the Cuban military, police, intelligence
and security services.

The new regulations also grant freer rein for U.S. companies to shoot
movies and television programs.

Late-night comedian Conan O'Brien and the Showtime series "House of
Lies" have shot in Havana recently, and the next installment of the
"Fast and Furious" films also plans scenes in Cuba.

"I think you're going to be bombarded with movie crews in Cuba now that
they are all approved on a general license," Williams said.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by
Chizu Nomiyama, W Simon and Frances Kerry)

Source: New U.S. rules allow infrastructure projects, movie shoots in
Cuba | Reuters -

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