On January 26, 2016, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) announced new amended regulations intended to further promote U.S. policy toward engaging and empowering the Cuban people.  The new amendments increase export opportunities, facilitate authorized travel, and broaden the scope of authorized transactions related to professional meetings and other events, disaster preparedness and response projects, and professional media and artistic productions in Cuba.

A summary of the new OFAC and BIS amendments is below:

FINANCING
Removing financing restrictions for most types of authorized exports.

  • The amendments remove restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorized non-agricultural exports and permit U.S. banks to provide financing, including by issuing a letter of credit for such exports. Under previous regulations, payment and financing terms for all authorized exports were restricted to cash-in-advance or third-country financing.

EXPORTS
Additional amendments to increase support for the Cuban people and facilitate authorized exports.

  • OFAC is expanding an existing general license to authorize certain travel-related transactions incident to the conduct of market research, commercial marketing, sales or contract negotiation, accompanied delivery, installation, leasing, or servicing in Cuba of items permissible for export under BIS regulations.
  • BIS now will generally approve license applications for export of the following:
    1. commodities and software to organizations that promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba;
    2. commodities and software to U.S. news bureaus in Cuba whose primary purpose is the gathering and dissemination of news to the general public;
    3. telecommunications items that would improve communications to, from, and among the Cuban people;
    4. certain agricultural items (such as agricultural commodities not eligible for a license exception, such as insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides); and
    5. items necessary to ensure the safety of civil aviation and the safe operation of commercial aircraft engaged in international air transportation.
  • BIS is also creating a case-by-case licensing policy that will apply to exports of items to meet the needs of the Cuban people, including exports to state-owned entities that provide goods and services to the Cuban people.  Exports eligible for this licensing policy would include, for example, items for agricultural production, education, and construction of infrastructure that directly benefits the Cuban people (e.g., facilities for treating public water supplies and supplying energy to the general public).

AIR CARRIER SERVICES
Additional amendment to facilitate carrier service by air and with Cuban airlines.

  • The amendments authorize entry into blocked space, code-sharing, and leasing arrangements to facilitate the provision of carrier services by air, including entry into such arrangements with a Cuban national.

TRAVEL
Expanding authorizations within existing travel categories to facilitate travel to Cuba for additional purposes.

  • Airline and vessel crew personnel.  The amendments authorize certain personnel who are operating or servicing vessels or aircraft transporting authorized travelers between the U.S. and Cuba to engage in travel-related and other transactions in Cuba to facilitate that transport.
  • Information and informational materials.  The amendments authorize travel-related and other transactions incident to the exportation, importation, or transmission of information, including the filming or production of movies and television programs; music recordings; and the creation of artworks by certain persons in Cuba.  The amendments also expand an existing general license to authorize transactions relating to the creation and dissemination of informational materials, including employment of Cuban nationals and the remittance of royalties or other payments.
  • Professional meetings.  The amendments authorize by general license travel-related and other transactions to organize professional meetings or conferences in Cuba.  The previous general license authorized only attendance at such meetings or conferences.
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic, and other competitions and exhibitions.  Similar to the change to the professional meetings category, the amendments authorize transactions related to organizing, rather than just attending, these events.  The amendments remove requirements that U.S. profits from certain events be donated to certain organizations and that certain events be run at least in part by U.S. travelers.
  • Humanitarian projects.  The amendments expand the list of authorized humanitarian projects to include disaster preparedness and response.
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Air Date: January 20, 2016

Scott Gilbert was featured on Stand Up! with Pete Dominick, a SiriusXM radio show hosted by stand-up comedian and politics enthusiast Pete Dominick and produced by Alfred Schulz, Melanie Starling, and Chris Hauselt. The interview discussed the agreement that the U.S. government made with the Iranian government to free four Americans, and a fifth prisoner in a separate deal, from Iran’s infamous Evin Prison on January 16, 2016. Mr. Gilbert discusses his involvement with the Hekmati family in dealing with Amir’s imprisonment and recent release, and the impact of this diplomatic effort as Iran takes steps to come to the world table and be more involved economically.

The focus of the three-hour SiriusXM Insight program each day ranges from current events, politics, environmental issues, veterans affairs to parenting.

“Our last guest was the DC-based attorney and founder & president of Reneo Consulting, LLC, Scott D. Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert worked with Cuban and U.S. officials to secure the release of American aid worker Alan Gross last year, and now his client Amir Hekmati has been released from 3.5 years in prison thanks to similar work between the U.S. and Iran.”

Listen to the segment below.

Source: http://standupwithpetedominick.com/

“Read the entire blog post here.

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Air Date: January 7, 2016

Scott Gilbert was featured for the third time on Stand Up! with Pete Dominick, a SiriusXM radio show hosted by stand-up comedian and politics enthusiast Pete Dominick and produced by Alfred Schulz, Melanie Starling, and Chris Hauselt. The interview discussed what has changed since President Obama’s declaration of normalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba on December 14, 2014, including Mr. Gilbert’s assessment of where we stand today. The segment also briefly touched on Guantanamo Bay, and Mr. Gilbert outlined what U.S. companies can and should be doing now to position themselves in Cuba, despite the fact that the trade embargo remains intact. The focus of the three-hour SiriusXM Insight program each day ranges from current events, politics, environmental issues, veterans affairs to parenting.

Scott D. Gilbert is the Washington D.C.-based attorney and managing director of Reneo Consulting LLC, whose pro bono work on U.S./Cuban relations led to the release of aid worker Alan Gross and has helped de-ice the ocean of political difference between the two countries. He joined Pete this morning to discuss where things are now, one year removed from the moment President Obama began lifting the restrictions on relations and travel to the island nation.”

Listen to the segment below.


Source: http://standupwithpetedominick.com/

Read the entire blog post here.

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