US loosens embargo on Cuba, making trade and travel easier

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration says new rules to significantly loosen the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and open up the communist island to greater American travel will go into effect Friday.

They are the next step in President Barack Obama's plan to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. They come three days after U.S. officials confirmed the release of 53 political prisoners Cuba had promised to free.

Only Congress can end the five-decade U.S. trade embargo of Cuba.

The measures include permission for Americans to use credit cards in Cuba and U.S. companies to export some technologies. Americans authorized to visit Cuba need no longer apply for special licenses.

Americans can also bring home up to $100 in alcohol and tobacco from Cuba, meaning the ban on Cuban cigars is officially over.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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