Dec 17 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama moved on Wednesday to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, a shift the White House said was needed because the long-standing U.S. embargo against the communist-ruled island has failed to promote democracy and has hurt the Cuban people.
Here are the key changes:
The U.S. will open an embassy in Havana.
During the next six months, Secretary of State John Kerry will review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
U.S. officials will hold high-level talks with Cuban counterparts on issues like migration, narcotics, environmental protections, human trafficking.
U.S. officials will discuss maritime boundaries with Cuba and Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico.
More Americans will be allowed to travel to Cuba.
The overall travel ban can only be lifted by Congress, so tourism will not be allowed.
Travel licenses will be available for family visits, journalists, professional research and professional meetings, educational activities, religious activities, performances and athletic competitions, humanitarian projects, and certain export activities.
Trade will be authorized with Cuban private companies in building materials for private homes, goods for entrepreneurs, farm equipment for small farmers.
Licensed travelers can bring back $400 in Cuban goods, including up to $100 in tobacco and alcohol for personal use.
The overall trade ban can only be lifted by Congress.
U.S. banks can open correspondent accounts at Cuban banks to help process authorized trade and remittances.
Rules defining “cash in advance” will be revised to mean “cash before transfer of title” to help finance trade with Cuba.
Travelers can use U.S. credit and debit cards.
U.S.-owned entities in other countries will be allowed to provide services to Cuban people who are outside of Cuba.
U.S. bank accounts of Cuban nationals who have moved outside of Cuba will be unblocked.
Export of telecom devices and services will be authorized.
Telecom providers will be allowed to provide commercial telecom and internet services.
U.S. citizens can sent up to $2,000 per quarter to Cuban nationals and humanitarian projects, up from $500. Licenses will no longer be required. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Tom Brown)