New Rules on Trade and Travel With Cuba Begin Today


Today marks a historic day in normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Beginning Jan. 16, the U.S. government has loosened trade and travel restrictions on Cuba. Simply put, you'll no longer need the feds to approve a trip to Cuba for humanitarian activities, journalism, education or family visits. American, Delta and Jet Blue airlines say they're interested in scheduling regular flights in and out of Cuba; cruise ships are expected to begin docking at the island sooner than later; and a ferry that used to shuttle between Key West, Fla., and Havana is expected to resume in the near future.

As for visitors to Cuba, Americans will be allowed to bring back up to $400 in total goods ($100 for alcohol and tobacco) and, yes, that includes rum and cigars.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter traveled to Cuba on numerous occasions, three while a U.S. congressman and another as governor in 2007.

"I have high hopes that the work we've done will result in a fruitful harvest for Idaho producers and businesses," Otter boasted in 2007.

When Otter and his delegation, which included dozens of businessmen and government officials, returned to Idaho, an official release from the governor's office touted deals to sell biotechnology, seed potatoes and plenty of meat. Falls Brand Independent Meats of Twin Falls announced a plan to ship more than 50 tons of boneless pork, valued at more than $100,000, in a matter of months. None of it happened.

Today, American businesses are expected to line up for their piece of the Cuban pie. Ultimately, the Cuban government will have the final say on who will be able to do business on the island.

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