US further lifts sanctions on Cuba

Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) The United States announced it would further lift sanctions on Cuba to facilitate trade as well as scientific and humanitarian exchanges between the two countries.

The move is intended to expand scientific collaboration, increase humanitarian support, and bolster trade and commercial opportunities between the United States and Cuba, the US Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday.

“These steps have the potential to accelerate constructive change and unlock greater economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans,” Xinhua news agency quoted US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew as saying.

The move, which will take effect from October 17, will make it easier for US companies to import Cuban-made pharmaceuticals, US agricultural companies to sell their products to the island and Cubans to purchase US-made goods online.

The new measure will also lift the limits on the amount of Cuban rum and cigars US travellers are allowed to bring home from the country.

On December 17, 2014, US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced that the two countries would normalize relations after more than a half century of enmity.

Obama on Friday also approved a Presidential Policy Directive that “takes another major step forward” in US efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.

“This new directive consolidates and builds upon the changes we have already made, promotes transparency by being clear about our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement between our countries and our people,” Obama said in a statement.

In the new directive, the Obama Administration also renewed its call on Congress to lift the embargo on Cuba.

“The embargo is outdated and should be lifted,” Obama said.

–IANS

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