Relaxed attitudes on Cuban rum and cigars

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Cuban cigars for sale. Americans can now bring home unlimited quantities for personal consumption.
Cuban cigars for sale. Americans can now bring home unlimited quantities for personal consumption. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

The move by the Obama administration to allow Americans to purchase and bring home unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars for personal consumption could prove to be one of the president's most popular executive directives -- at least for those enamored with two of Cuba's signature products, according to Ashley Craig, partner at the Washington-based Venable law firm and co-chair of the firm's International Trade Group.

"Relaxing the cigar-and-rum regulation is a popular move, and probably the last which will be announced by the White House under Obama," Craig said.

"He did this by executive order, which makes it more difficult to roll back if the next president wants to do that. The rollback would require a lengthy process, involving many government agencies that would have to revisit all the new regulations put in by the Obama administration."

Restricting the import of Cuban cigars and rum into the U.S. took effect in 1962, one of the measures of the U.S. embargo imposed upon Cuba by president John Kennedy.

Craig described the administration's move to lift the restriction as an "interesting footnote to the last two years," a reference to the series of changes that began on Dec. 17, 2014, when Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro announced normalized relations between the two countries.

"The White House also has streamlined the process of exporting products from the U.S. to Cuba and vice versa, which opens up opportunities for U.S. shipping companies to get their cargo into Cuba and and expedites cargo shipments, such as pharmaceuticals, from Cuba into the U.S.," Craig said, adding that "expanded trade helps the Cuban people and the Cuban economy."

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