To see how carefully the White House must craft its rollback of sanctions targeting the Castro regime, consider this week's amendments to the 56-year-old Cuba embargo. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Tuesday loosened restrictions against the island-nation for the fourth time in fifteen months, allowing Cuban residents and Cubans working in the United States to open accounts and remit funds at American financial institutions. Financial institutions in the United States are also now permitted to conduct u-turn transactions between their Cuban counterparts and other overseas banks provided the transfers don't directly involve American entities....
The White House on Friday disclosed plans to blacklist dozens of businesses in Cuba and expand existing sanctions against the Cuban government in what some have called the first step of a broader strategy to renew a U.S. embargo against the country.
U.S. Treasury Department officials on Tuesday lifted banking and export restrictions against Cuba they say have stymied yearlong efforts to normalize economic and diplomatic ties with the island-nation.
Thursday's partial easing of U.S. sanctions against Cuba will do much to bring money to the island nation, but even a full rollback of economic restrictions won't soon resolve the biggest barriers to entry for American banks: low profit margins and high regulatory risk.
The incoming Obama administration is likely to scale back limits on remittances to Cuba imposed by President Bush, a move that would be welcomed by the U.S. financial community, according to bank regulatory specialists.