U.S. government entity supports small-company exports to Cuba

In a conference call, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet will be on hand to answer questions about “how American small businesses can seize the full potential of our rapprochement with Cuba”

CUBA STANDARD — In more small ‘firsts’ during a big-picture month for U.S.-Cuba relations, the U.S. Small Business Administration made an announcement that suggests it is supporting businesses seeking exports to Cuba, and the Commerce Department lifted a few more restrictions for exports to Cuba.

In announcing a conference call on July 29, the SBA said that Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and other senior officials will be on hand to answer questions about “how American small businesses can seize the full potential of our rapprochement with Cuba.”

Until recently, agricultural and medical sales were the only exempted goods from the U.S. embargo. However, new rules published by the Departments of Commerce and Treasury in January now exempt other sales, as long as the recipient is a Cuban non-government entity.

“Small business owners often tell us that they have many questions about how to enter a new market — and those questions are magnified when it comes to doing business with Cuba,” SBA official Eileen Sánchez said in the announcement.

“The trade embargo remains, which can only be lifted through Congressional action. Nonetheless, the president’s decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease some commercial and travel restrictions is a step toward increased economic opportunity in our hemisphere — particularly for American small businesses.”

The call will begin July 29 at 4 p.m. ET. To register, go to http://ems.intellor.com/?p=205438&do=register&t=71. Experts at hand will include officials with the State Department, Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The same day, BIS implemented Cuba’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, eliminating some Export Administration Regulation (EAR) restrictions.

They include permitting the reexport to Cuba of foreign-made products with up to 25% U.S.-origin content, (up from the current level of 10%), and also generally allowing the export of replacement parts for items legally exported to Cuba. In addition, general aviation, such as corporate jets, may now use license exceptions for trips to Cuba; previously, only charter flights were eligible for this license exception. However, a license will still be required to export or reexport to Cuba any item subject to EAR unless a license exception is available.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said at a forum in Tampa earlier this year that the Commerce Department will guide and facilitate more travel to Cuba and open the door to more trade.

“Our new policy allows American firms to increase exports of goods like agricultural products, medicines and medical devices, and building materials, to an untapped market,” Pritzker said.

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