On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced the beginning of a normalization process between the United States of America and Cuba, starting a new chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations.
A major step in this process was reached on July 20, 2015, when Cuba and the United States reopened their respective embassies and reestablished diplomatic relations. U.S. Embassy Havana occupies the same building on the Malecón as it did prior to the severing of diplomatic relations.
Even with the recent changes, the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba remains in place and most transactions between the United States and Cuba continue to be prohibited. Since 2000, certain U.S. exports of agricultural goods and medical devices have been permitted.
The recent regulatory changes implemented by the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury removed certain technical barriers between the United States and Cuba and created a more efficient, less burdensome payment requirement and process for sales of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba. These changes – which revised the regulatory interpretation of the term “cash-in-advance” and authorized U.S. banks to establish correspondent accounts at Cuban banks – should improve the speed, efficiency, and oversight of authorized payments between the United States and Cuba.
The announced changes also authorize expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services. The expansion seeks to empower the nascent Cuban private sector. Items authorized for export include certain building materials for private residential construction, goods for use by private sector Cuban entrepreneurs, and agricultural equipment for small farmers.
Other regulatory changes increase the amount of remittances permitted, authorize commercial sales and exports to Cuba of certain goods and services for use by Cuban entrepreneurs, and encourage more engagement by U.S. information and communications technology (ICT) companies in Cuba to support better connectivity and access to information by the Cuban people.
In addition, to further engage and empower the Cuban people, regulatory changes allow the importation of certain goods and services produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs. More information on permitted imports is available here.
The regulatory changes also facilitate further authorized commerce, travel, and transactions between the United States and Cuba. Changes to authorized financial transactions will make sales of already authorized agriculture products easier – those sales neared $300 million last year.
On September 18, 2015, the Department of Treasury and Department of Commerce announced amendments furthering implementation of President Obama’s 2014 Announcement Related to the Easing of Cuba Sanctions. Here is more information on recent U.S. amendments to the rules concerning trade with Cuba.
U.S.-Cuba Trade Facts
Cuba is currently our 147th largest goods trading partner with $180 million in total (two way) goods trade during 2015. Goods exports totaled $180 million; there were no goods imports. The U.S. goods trade surplus with Cuba was $180 million in 2015.
According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods to Cuba supported an estimated 2 thousand jobs in 2014.
- Cuba was the United States’ 127th largest goods export market in 2015.
- U.S. goods exports to Cuba in 2015 were $180 million, down 40% ($119 million) from 2014 and down 51% from 2005.
- The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2015 were: meat ($78 million), food waste, animal feed ($44 million), miscellaneous grain, seeds, fruit ($22 million), miscellaneous chemical products ($13 million), and inorganic chemicals ($9 million).
- U.S. exports of agricultural products to Cuba totaled $150 million in 2015. Leading categories include: poultry ($78 million), soybean meal ($55 million), soybeans ($10 million), corn ($5 million), and dairy products ($412 thousand).
- There were no goods imported from Cuba in 2015.
- The U.S. goods trade surplus with Cuba was $180 million in 2015, a 39.7% decrease ($119 million) over 2014.