New Regulations on Cuba Travel
by Sandra Levinson
[Editor's Note: The last few months have seen some positive developments in US-Cuba relations both in public opinion and in Congress. A recent Gallup poll found that 71% of Americans support re-establishment of US diplomatic relations with Cuba. Humanitarian aid legislation favored by the Senate would allow food and medicine trade with Cuba, and the Treasury Department has issued new regulations that loosen travel restrictions. These regulations enable schools, religious groups, and humanitarian organizations to obtain institutional licenses which permit an organization to travel to and from Cuba for the duration of the license, without applying separately for each trip or individual participant. Eligible organizations are only just beginning to take advantage of the opening provided.]
There is some good news for people who have always wanted to visit Cuba. Although you still cannot travel to Cuba legally either as a tourist or to do business there, in mid-May the Treasury Department issued new regulations that make travel to Cuba easier for those previously eligible for licenses. These regulations also open up a few new categories for legal travel.
If you are doing professional research in your field or attending an international professional conference, you no longer need a specific license from the Treasury Department. You can travel to Cuba under "general license," i.e., no specific piece of paper needs to be requested, you may affirm that you qualify, but should carry some official identification or document that demostrates that you qualify.
The same applies to full-time journalists. If you are a free-lance journalist, you still need a specific license but that license is good for multiple trips to Cuba. Anyone may also travel to Cuba.
US and Vietnam Approve Trade Agreement
by Tara McAuliff
After 3 years of arduous negotiations, the United States and Vietnam have agreed "in principal" on a bilateral trade agreement. This historic step comes at a time when Vietnam's economy continues to falter, and investment confidence is sorely needed. This important breakthrough will no doubt prove a boost to investment in Vietnam.
This bilateral trade agreement is the most comprehensive the U.S. has ever negotiated, and covers issues such as tariffs, quotas, banking and other key areas of interest to U.S. investors. This is also one of the last hurtles in U.S.-Vietnam relations before the two treat each other as they do other nations, helping to continue to heal the wounds of the ten-year conflict they fought against one another. As U.S. negotiator Richard Fisher put it "This agreement would, of course, represent an historical event, representing the final chapter in the transformation of our relationship from adversary to trading partners."
Once this agreement has been signed and ratified by the two legislative bodies, Vietnam will not only benefit from having access to the biggest market in the world but also become a much more attractive place for foreign investors from other countries hoping to manufacture goods for export to the U.S. Normal Trade Status (NTS) will likely follow in both countries, and Vietnam's bid to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be greatly enhanced.
The new Hilton Hotel (right) in Hanoi compliments the Opera House.