The Obama administration says it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island.
Cuban rum and cigars will now be subject to the same duties as alcohol and tobacco from other countries, meaning most people will be able to bring back as many as 100 cigars and several bottles of rum. High-end Cuban cigars can sell for more than $100 apiece outside Cuba, meaning every U.S. traveler can now legally bring back many thousands of dollars in Cuban products. The previous limit restricted travelers to a combined value of $100 in rum and cigars.
The measure is contained in a package of relatively small-scale regulatory changes meant to ease U.S. trade with Cuba.
Statement by the President on the Presidential Policy Directive on Cuba:
Today, I approved a Presidential Policy Directive that takes another major step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. This Directive takes a comprehensive and whole-of-government approach to promote engagement with the Cuban government and people, and make our opening to Cuba irreversible.
In December 2014, following more than 50 years of failed policy, I announced that the United States would begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. Since then, we’ve worked with the people and the government of Cuba to do exactly that – re-establishing diplomatic relations, opening embassies, expanding travel and commerce, and launching initiatives to help our people cooperate and innovate. This new directive consolidates and builds upon the changes we’ve already made, promotes transparency by being clear about our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement between our countries and our people.
Consistent with this approach, the Departments of Treasury and Commerce issued further regulatory changes today, building on the progress made over the last two years, to continue to facilitate more interaction between the Cuban and American people, including through travel and commercial opportunities, and more access to information. This follows previous changes that helped facilitate interconnectivity between our peoples, and to promote economic reforms on the island by providing access to the dollar in international transactions. These changes are representative of the progress I saw firsthand when I visited Havana to personally extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. The quick flight over 90 miles of blue water belied the real barriers of the past that were crossed that day, but my interactions with everyday Cubans told a promising story of neighbors working to build broader ties of cooperation across the Americas.
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. The progress of the last two years, bolstered by today’s action, should remind the world of what’s possible when we look to the future together.
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