US-Cuba travel and trade: New rules start on Friday 15 January 2015 Last updated at 12:42 ET


Woman smokes Cuban cigar at cigar festival in Havana  on 27 February 2014

Americans will be able to bring home small numbers of Cuban cigars after a ban of more than 50 years

New travel and trade rules between the US and Cuba are to take effect on Friday, US officials say.

Measures include allowing US citizens to use credit cards in Cuba and for US businesses to export some technologies.

Americans will be able to take home up to $100 (£66) in alcohol and tobacco from Cuba. Correspondents say it means the US ban on Cuban cigars is over.

The move implements last month’s agreement to re-establish ties severed since 1961.

Although the latest moves put a large dent in the US trade embargo against Cuba, only Congress can lift it completely.

Earlier this week, US officials said Cuba had completed the release of 53 political prisoners agreed as part of the historic deal.

Policies ‘out of date’

“Today’s announcement takes us one step closer to replacing out-of-date policies that were not working and puts in place a policy that helps promote political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” said US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.

Tomas Bilbao: “Failed policy of isolation and confrontation”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the changes would “immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy”.

While ordinary tourism is still banned, the new regulations will allow US citizens to travel to Cuba for any of a dozen specific reasons without first obtaining a special licence from the government.

US credit and debit cards can be used there and there will be no more limits on how much money US citizens can spend in Cuba each day.

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