On January 26, 2015, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) each announced continued relaxation of the US embargo of Cuba in furtherance of the Obama Administration’s new Cuba policy (more information here).

OFAC revised the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”) to further reduce payment and financing restrictions for authorized non-agricultural exports and reexports to Cuba; to permit blocked space, code-sharing, and leasing arrangements for Cuban airlines for authorized travel to Cuba; and to allow the temporary sojourn of aircraft and vessels.  In addition, OFAC’s CACR amendments authorize a broader scope of transactions related to professional events, disaster preparedness and response, and the dissemination of informational materials such as professional media and artistic productions in Cuba.

BIS revised the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) to adopt a policy of license approval for exports and reexports of commodities and software in support of certain types of Cuban NGOs; news organizations; certain telecommunications activities; agricultural activities requiring items beyond the scope of existing license exceptions; and civil aviation safety.  BIS’ EAR amendments also create a case-by-case licensing policy for exports and reexports of items to support the Cuban people, including items destined for state-owned enterprises, so long as those items do not primarily generate revenue for the state.

These amendments will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on January 27, 2015.  Please stay tuned to this blog for additional information and a detailed advisory on these developments, and sign up to receive Steptoe advisories here.