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US Eases Cuba Travel, Trade Restrictions


Americans who want to travel to or do business with Cuba will have an easier time, thanks to new U.S. government rules that go into effect Friday.

The easing of restrictions comes as part of the Obama administration's historic decision last month to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

The new Commerce and Treasury Department rules will allow U.S. citizens to visit Cuba without special permits. Most American travelers will still need to visit as part of supervised group trips but less paperwork will be required.

Americans will also be able used credit cards in Cuba and bring home up to $400 in goods, including alcohol and Cuba's famous cigars.

American companies also now have the option to export telephones, computers, and Internet technology as well as agriculture and construction equipment. 

Many companies, however, will no doubt proceed with caution as Cuban authorities have not yet revealed what, if any, restrictions they might impose on U.S. exports to their country.

Historically, Cuba has long frustrated foreign investors with red tape and an outdated infrastructure.

Even as the United States softens its trade and travel restrictions, Congress is the only authority that can fully end the 54-year-old embargo.

The new U.S. policies come just days after U.S. officials confirmed that Cuba released 53 political prisoners it had promised to free.

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