Changes begin Friday--
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is putting a large dent in the U.S. embargo against Cuba as of Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment.
The new rules also open up the communist island to greater American travel and allow U.S. citizens to start bringing home small amounts of Cuban cigars after more than a half-century ban.
Starting Friday, U.S. companies will be able to export mobile phones, televisions, memory devices, recording devices, computers and software to a country with notoriously poor Internet and telecommunications infrastructure. The goal is to "contribute to the ability of the Cuban people to communicate with people within Cuba, in the United States, and the rest of the world," according to a Treasury Department fact sheet. Internet-based communications will fall under a general license.
— Americans permitted to travel to Cuba for family visits, official U.S. government business, journalism, research, education, religious activity
— Americans visiting Cuba will be allowed to bring home $100 in alcohol and tobacco products, and $400 in total goods.
— No more limits on how much money Americans spend in Cuba each day or what they spend it on.
—Permissible use of U.S. credit and debit cards.
—Travel agents and airlines can fly to Cuba without a special license.
—Insurance companies can provide coverage for health, life and travel insurance policies for individuals residing in or visiting Cuba.
—Financial institutions may open accounts at Cuban banks to facilitate authorized transactions.
—Companies may ship building materials and equipment to private Cuban companies to renovate private buildings.