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Web Alert: US announces further amendments to Cuban Asset Control Regulations

26 October 2016

On 14 October 2016, the US Treasury Department of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced new amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to create more economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans. The changes took effect on 17 October 2016 and included:

  • authorising certain transactions related to Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals and joint medical research;
  • expanding existing authorisations for grants and humanitarian-related services;
  • facilitating authorised travel and commerce;
  • supporting international aviation and passenger safety; and
  • bolstering trade and commercial opportunities.

However, the US trade embargo against Cuba remains largely in place and most transactions between US persons and Cuba continue to be prohibited. More details can be found at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 515 and 15 CFR parts 740 and 746.

Most importantly for the shipping community, these recent amendments affect the ‘180 day rule’. For a discussion on this rule, please see our previous web alert dated 5 October 2015.

OFAC is now issuing a general license that will waive the restriction prohibiting foreign vessels from entering a U.S. port for loading or unloading cargo for 180 days after calling at a Cuban port, providing it only discharges cargo in Cuba from a third country, which would be designated as EAR 99 under the US Export Administration Regulations.

More information on EAR and the types of cargoes exempted from the 180 day rule can be found on the right of this page. The US Treasury Department and the Department of State has issued updated Guidance and FAQS and Freehill Hogan & Mahar LLP has produced a helpful client alert that is also available on the right.

The addition of a general license will considerably expand the types of cargoes exempted from the 180 day rule. However, the general trade embargo remains in place, and members are advised to carefully review the scope of permitted activities under these regulations before trading to or from Cuba.