Frequently Asked Questions

1.      Can U.S. firms engage in trade with Cuba?

Yes.  Pursuant to the provisions of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (the “CDA”) and the Trade Sanctions and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (the “TSRA”), the Commerce Department authorizes the sale and export or re-export of medicine and medical supplies, food and agricultural commodities to Cuba.  U.S. firms interested in engaging in such exports or re-exports must first obtain authorization from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Export Administration. 

Reference: H.R. 4461, 106th Congress – 2nd Session (2000)

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2.      What products can be sold legally to Cuba?

Eligible products listed under the TSRA include prescription medicines and OTC's for human and animals.  They also include medical supplies, instruments, equipment, equipped ambulances, institutional washing machines capable of sterilizing hospital clothing and bedding, and vehicles with installed medical testing equipment.  Ineligible medicines include dual use type medicines such as the following: controlled vaccines, controlled immunotoxins, controlled medical products that are pharmaceutical formulations designed for human administration in the treatment of medical conditions and controlled diagnostic and food testing kits.

Agricultural products eligible under the TSRA include but are not limited to: food, feed, fish, shellfish and fish products; beer, wine and spirits; soft drinks; livestock; fiber, including cotton, wool and other fibers; tobacco and tobacco products; wood and wood products, including lumber and utility poles; seeds; and reproductive materials such as fertilized eggs, etc.  Vitamins, minerals, food additives and dietary supplements and bottled water are also considered to be eligible agricultural commodities for the purposes of the TSRA.

Reference: at TSRA Fact Sheet link



3.      How do Cuban American’s in South Florida feel about a change is U.S. policy towards Cuba?

According to a 2000 Florida International University poll, a majority of Cuban-American’s living in Miami-Dade County - by a 52-48 percent margin - believe the U.S. should allow American companies to conduct at least some business with Cuba.  By a 53-47 percent margin, a majority of Miami-Dade Cuban-American’s wants the U.S. to lift the ban on travel to Cuba completely.



4.      How are products shipped under the TSRA?

Two ways to ship are available: 1) Third country shippers, such as Mexican carriers that docked in Texas to facilitate the ADM cash sales to Cuba; and 2) OFAC licensed shippers, such as Crowley shipping, which shipped directly from Washington State to Cuba a $2,000,000.00 cash sales of apples.  DHL is a licensed OFAC air freight carrier but to date has only directly shipped letter, packages not commodities to Cuba.



5.      Who can travel to Cuba for business and what requirements and restrictions are there?

Only those with DOT OFAC licenses which are very rare and difficult to obtain. Typical language is as follows:

Page 2 of 2, SECTION 1 – AUTHORIZATION: This license authorizes the necessary employees, officials, consultants or agents of the Licensee to engage in the travel-related transactions set forth in 515.560(c) of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515 (the “CACR”), incident travel to, from and within Cuba, and such additional transactions that are directly incident to the marketing, sales negotiation, accompanied delivery or servicing of agricultural exports and /or medicines and medical supplies that are consistent with the policy of the Department of Commerce (“DOC”).



6.      Does the U.S. government currently have relations with Cuba?

The U.S. does have representation in Havana via the U.S. Interests Section (USINT, since 1977) within the Swiss Consulate and Cuba has equivalent representation in the U.S. via the Cuban Affairs Office in the Swiss Consulate in Washington D.C..




7.      Do other Western countries trade with and travel to Cuba?

Spain, France, Germany, Canada, Mexico and hundreds of other countries freely trade with Cuba, with hundreds of international joint venture investment projects annually.



8.  What products does Cuba need and want to buy and how does Cuba pay for purchases?

Cuba is a country with nearly 500 billion dollars GDP and is in dire need in all infrastructure areas ie: roads, power, water, transportation, telecommunications, agricultural products, medicines and many other areas.  Cuba has had a cloudy history in its credit relationships in the international market place, having a poor track record of payment on credit.  However Cuba has and does pay cash in its other relationships, with preferred importers approaching the annual 20% mark.

As the current status of the US laws regarding TSAR DOC allowed trade with Cuba, all US product purchases must be made in cash, no financing.  Thus US corporations have a unique and beneficial window to enter the market, avoid credit risks, obtain branding, gain market share all the while EU competitors still complain and operate on a credit basis with Cuba.

Please click here for a list of food products requested by the Cuban Government.

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