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Cuban asset control regulations modified to ease transactions

On September 21st, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to implement additional revisions consistent with the policy changes announced by President Obama in December 2014.

According to the Treasury Department, the changes “are intended to further engage and empower the Cuban people by further easing sanctions related to travel, telecommunications and internet-based services, business operations in Cuba, and remittances.” The CACR amendment has been published in the Federal Register and an updated “Frequently Asked Questions” page consistent with the regulatory amendment is available on the OFAC site.

While the new regulations expand the availability of travel, telecommunications, and banking opportunities for U.S. citizens, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are still prohibited from doing business or investing in Cuba unless licensed by OFAC. Although it is now possible for some U.S. businesses to establish and maintain a physical presence in Cuba, such as an office, the relaxed regulations still prohibit firms from providing design or construction services in Cuba and still restrict the ability of insurance to cover services in Cuba or pay any claim to a Cuban business or national.

Until Congress acts to modify or end the embargo, engineers and architects can take educational or trade missions to Cuba, although they are restricted by the regulations from accompanying recreational activities while in Cuba. But firms subject to U.S. jurisdiction cannot pursue business opportunities to create or improve the infrastructure, housing, or other capital assets needed by Cuba. That will still be a market for European, South American, and Asian design and construction firms.

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