The United States has approved an expanded range of commercial relations with Cuba, marking another step in the Obama administration's process of re-building ties with Havana after more than five decades of sanctions.
The new amendments, published today by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce, will make it easier for U.S. companies to film movies, fund exports, and conduct business with Cuba's government on public infrastructure projects.
Offering more opportunities for both commercial and cultural exchange, the amended regulations "send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to empowering and enabling economic advancements for the Cuban people," said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew in an official statement that was also released on Twitter.
"We have been working to enable the free flow of information between Cubans and Americans and will continue to take the steps necessary to help the Cuban people achieve the political and economic freedom that they deserve."
The new regulations will come into effect on Wednesday upon publication in the Federal Register, the Miami Herald explains, further expanding the commercial and travel directives that have been released since the two countries announced their intention to normalize relations in 2014.
While most U.S. trade with Cuba is still prohibited by the economic embargo, U.S. President Barack Obama has been exercising executive authority to permit commerce that is not specifically barred by Congress, according to Reuters.
With the amended regulations, American banks are now permitted to finance authorized exports, except for agricultural commodities, reports the Wall Street Journal. Until now, such trade had to be funded by cash in advance, or otherwise financed through third-country banks.
On a case-by-case basis, U.S. companies will also be allowed to be involved in infrastructure construction projects that are considered to be directly useful to the Cuban people, such as water treatment and energy supply projects.
Travel restrictions have also been loosened, according to Latin Post, including travel for the purposes of professional media, artistic productions, professional conferences and meetings, public performances, athletic competitions and humanitarian aid ventures.