Rules relaxed for some Cuban infrastructure projects

cuban-streetDespite warming relations between the United States and Cuba, Congress has yet to change the embargo on most forms of trade (although restrictions on Cuban cigar and rum imports was recently eased, among some other changes). As a result, so many design projects related to tourist facilities, buildings, ports, and other infrastructure improvements have gone to non-US companies.

Now, the US Treasury Department has further refined the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations for services related to developing Cuban infrastructure. Unless countermanded by Congress or judicial interpretation of the Congressional boycott of Cuban trade, authorized persons can now provide Cuba or Cuban nationals with services related to developing, repairing, maintaining, and enhancing Cuban infrastructure. As part of a list of “humanitarian-related transactions,” the new rules mean that firms acting within compliance of the export or re-export licensing policy of the Department of Commerce can provide services on:

systems and assets used to provide the Cuban people with goods and services produced by the public transportation, water management, waste management, non-nuclear electricity generation, and electricity distribution sectors, as well as hospitals, public housing, and primary and secondary schools.

US-based or US-owned firms have to be aware, however, that the embargo still affects insurance coverage. Other than certain global health, life, or travel insurance policies for authorized individuals, US insurers and their subsidiaries are still banned by Congress (absent specific authorization from OFAC) from issuing policies, providing reinsurance coverage, or paying insurance or reinsurance claims related to non-US persons for Cuban-related services.

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