Shipping between the US and Cuba took another step toward possible normality on Thursday with the announcement by the US Coast Guard (USCG) that it is lifting an eight-year restriction on vessels arriving from the Caribbean island following improved anti-terrorism measures in Cuban ports.
The USCG said it is removing the conditions of entry which had required ships arriving in the US from Cuba to be subjected to additional security screening procedures and full vessel searches.
This announcement was made less than a week before US President Barack Obama makes his historic visit to Havana, the first US president to do so in nearly 90 years, long before the Communist revolution of 1959.
Obama has led a thaw between the countries. They have restored diplomatic ties. And in the absence of US Congressional approval for lifting embargoes the US administration has been systematically loosening restrictions on Americans travelling to the island and doing business there.
Also the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to simplify the transit of authorized cargo through Cuba, removing the need for a specific licence.