US tightens curbs on Cuba, imposes new travel and trade restriction

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Tuesday imposed new restrictions under amended Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) as part of President Donald Trump’s Cuba policy. 

These amendments complement changes to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which were announced on 17 April 2019, and include restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba.  
“Cuba remains communist, and the United States, under the previous administration, made too many concessions to one of our historically most aggressive adversaries,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The Trump administration recognises the threat Cuba’s government poses in the region, and the Commerce Department is acting to limit commercial activity that provides revenue for the Cuban regime. Holding other countries accountable remains a focus for this administration and we will remain vigilant.”
These actions, a part of the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by the President on 16 June 2017, titled `Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba,’  are intended to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services. The treasury changes are effective from 5 June 2019 when the regulations are published in the Federal Register.
Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include: 
Ending group people-to-people travel is in accordance with the newly announced changes to non-family travel to Cuba. The OFAC is amending the regulations to remove the authorisation for group people-to-people educational travel. OFAC’s regulatory changes include a “grandfathering” provision, which provides that certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorised will continue to be authorised where the traveller had already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to 4 June 2019.
Ending exports of passenger vessels, recreational vessels, and private aircraft, under which, BIS, in coordination with OFAC, is amending its EAR to make passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for licence exception and to establish a general policy of denial for licence applications involving those vessels and aircraft.
The BIS rule update is effective from Tuesday.