Cigar aficionados here in the United States argue vociferously about the legendary Cuban cigars. Many feel like the artificial scarcity imposed by trade restrictions elevated the cigars to legendary heights.
Others say is cigar is just a cigar. Either way, U.S. travelers going abroad can bring home all the Cuban rum and cigars they want. This is a huge step and one that is sure to make some fans of Cuban exports exceptionally happy.
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The Obama administration announced new executive actions Friday designed to increase trade and travel with Cuba. Travelers can now purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars. There’s only one catch–the rum and cigars still have to be for personal consumption.
In return, the U.S. gets to import Cuban pharmaceuticals and U.S. companies–especially those producing food–can sell to Cuba.
The regulations issued by the U.S. Treasury Department follow a series of negotiations between President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro. The two leaders announced on Dec. 17, 2014, that the two nations would bury their past differences and begin working toward a productive trade policy.
“The Treasury Department has worked to break down economic barriers in areas such as travel, trade and commerce, banking, and telecommunications,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said. “Today’s action builds on this progress by enabling more scientific collaboration, grants and scholarships, people-to-people contact, and private sector growth.”
The ban on Cuban cigars has lasted more than 50 years. The Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union killed off all relations with our island neighbor, and smokers have complained bitterly ever since.
A previous ruling had allowed for travelers to bring back limited quantities of cigars. Americans could bring back $100 worth in their luggage. Now there’s no limit to the amount you can bring back.
Critics of the decision want all trade restrictions lifted. The new policy, they feel, will fuel the black market for Cuban cigars and Rum in the U.S.–a market that is already inundated with counterfeits.