The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security has issued a rule, effective immediately, lowering the permissible level of de minimis U.S.-origin content in goods to be exported to Cuba. Items manufactured outside the United States now may have no more than 10% U.S.-origin content (reduced from 25%) if they are to be exported to Cuba without violating U.S. export controls. The rule also restricts leasing of aircraft and vessels subject to U.S. export controls (which, because of the de minimis rule, includes a majority of commercial aircraft) to Cuban entities. These changes reverse liberalizations implemented in 2015 when Cuba was removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list. The rule also restricts the availability of license exceptions for the export of certain telecommunications equipment and donations of items for scientific, cultural, and similar purposes to Cuban government entities.
In announcing the new rule, the Trump Administration linked the changes to Cuba’s repressive activities and support of the Maduro regime in Venezuela. This action continues the pattern of relatively modest reversals by the Trump Administration of the relatively modest liberalization measures introduced by the Obama Administration.