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Cuba Trade Resource Center (CTRC)

Fischer & Associates is pleased to announce our new Cuba Trade Resource Center (CTRC). CTRC provides up-to-date export compliance and trade control advice on Cuba-related transactions specifically to higher education and research clients currently engaged in (or anticipating) transactions with Cuba.

With the expanded scope of permissible travel under OFAC’s General License provisions and other regulatory changes, universities are availing themselves of new opportunities to conduct research; participate in academic exchanges; sponsor or coordinate professional conferences; host Cuban professionals; and explore entrepreneurial activities.

However, with these opportunities come potential OFAC compliance risks associated with non-conformity to General and Specific License requirements, as well as non-compliance with EAR requirements concerning the export of commodities to Cuba used for research, exhibition or other purposes. In particular, institutions without robust pre-travel authorization processes, or whose faculty members and students do not avail themselves of established university travel processes, remain more vulnerable to compliance issues when engaging with Cuba.

CTRC is designed to proactively and efficiently address compliance requirements on a cost-effective consulting basis. Our firm’s Associates are highly skilled in evaluating and assisting in all Cuba-related matters and are available to provide a quick turn-around on regulatory inquiries and license matters. CTRC services include the following:

  • Educational or Research General Licenses or Specific Licenses: Start-to-finish OFAC requirements evaluation, application, and implementation guidance.
  • Faculty/Staff Training: In-person and webinar trainings, and customized materials for client use.
  • Hosting Cuban Scholars: Evaluation of export control implications and special documentation.
  • Participating in Consortia with Cuban partners: Export control risk analysis including SDNL screening guidance.
  • Web-based guidance/forms: Pre-travel evaluation/authorization forms; license documentation checklists; overview guidance/FAQs.
  • Exporting commodities: EAR license applications and exceptions for exporting goods to Cuba in conjunction with General or Specific Licenses.
  • Establishing a presence in Cuba: Analysis/advice on establishing an academic or research venue in Cuba, including coordination with NGOs.


Representative Case Scenarios

Following are representative case scenarios commonly encountered by universities and research entities which illustrate nuanced compliance requirements.

Case Scenario No. 1:

A professor of Environmental Science intends to travel to Havana with several students for an ecological research project requiring the use of a camera-equipped drone.

Key Issues to Consider

  • Watch-list screening: Is there a Cuban collaborating and/or facilitating institution that should be screened?
  • General License coverage for PI and students: Graduate-level and full time study directly relevant to project?
  • Scope of activity: Activity planned beyond research (e.g. training Cubans on equipment or methodology) that would require a Specific License?
  • Scope of financial transactions: related to travel (payments for lodging, transport, basic necessities, etc.)?
  • Export of Drone: will EAR License Exception SCP (support for the Cuban people) apply? Or will a separate EAR license be required?


Case Scenario No. 2

A meteorology professor is co-organizing an academic conference with a Cuban research institution in Havana on weather-prediction radar technologies. The conference will include some off-site professional networking opportunities and social events. The professor also intends to bring students who will present at the conference as well as family members to assist with administrative tasks to run the event.

Key Issues to Consider

  • What are the professional parameters of the conference? Will conference papers/results be published?
  • Watch list screening: Has the Cuban research institution been screened?
  • General License coverage for PI and students: Are the off-site networking and social events consistent with the allowable scope of General License professional activity?
  • Will the participation of students and family members satisfy the General License criteria for conference attendees, and volunteers or aides?
  • How will payment for the conference be arranged?
  • Will there be any other Cuban entities involved in facilitating conference logistics other than the Cuban co-sponsor?


Case Scenario No. 3

A college of journalism would like to host an independent filmmaker from Cuba to talk about a film (already available on YouTube) that the film maker created in Cuba on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. While the filmmaker profiles himself as an “independent” filmmaker and journalist, he is affiliated with the Cuban Institute for Cinema and Art — which, in turn, is affiliated and supported by the Cuban Government.

Key Issues to Consider

  • By hosting this individual, is there an “import of services”?
  • Does the SCP (Support for Cuban People) license exemption apply?
  • Would the filmmaker qualify as a “Cuban Scholar” under the General License covering Educational Activities?
  • Does the filmmaker qualify as an “entrepreneur” and “independent” under the State Department’s guidelines with no disqualifying ties to the Cuban Government? If so, what documentary evidence of independence from the Cuban Government is available (e.g. self-employment license issued by Cuban Government)?


Case Scenario No. 4

An agricultural college wants to export samples of a proprietary rhizome to a Cuban researcher for evaluation and testing, in order to determine whether the rhizomes would eventually be suitable as commercial purchases by Cuban agricultural companies.

Key Issues to Consider

  • Watch list screening: Has the Cuban researcher and any known future consignees been screened?
  • Are the rhizomes classified as EAR99?
  • If so, would the export satisfy the requirements for the Agricultural Commodities (AGR) license exception? In particular, the notification requirement to BIS and the underlying documented contractual criteria as applicable?

For further information concerning CTRC services, please contact Don Fischer, Principal, Fischer & Associates by email or at (415) 987-4039. To subscribe to our future updates, please click here.

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