U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca on Oct. 7 inaugurated a regulatory dialogue between U.S. and Cuban officials aimed at facilitating more effective implementation of new U.S. policies toward the island nation. Representatives from the departments of Commerce, Treasury and State were expected to discuss the recent changes to regulations governing trade, financial transactions and travel applicable to Cuba. U.S. officials were also expected to hear from Cuban counterparts on the structure and status of the Cuban economy.
Pritzker explained to her Cuban audience that the U.S. has eliminated certain restrictions on remittances, eased limits on exports and imports – including trade in the telecommunications sector – and made changes to facilitate authorized travel to the island. She cautioned, however, that these actions are not likely to have a transformational impact on the lives of the Cuban people overnight and noted that the extent of their impact “will be dependent on the Cuban government also taking certain steps to update its regulatory system and reform the economy in ways that support the continued development of a Cuban private sector.”
Among other things, Pritzker urged Cuban leaders to make it easier for Cuban citizens to trade and travel more freely, access the Internet, and be hired directly by foreign companies. She added that the Obama administration supports lifting the trade embargo and hopes Congress will take action to repeal it in the near future.
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