New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to discuss plans for a trade mission to Cuba later this year during his Wednesday state-of-the-state address, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. Cuomo would be one of the first U.S. officials to travel to the country since the Obama administration loosened travel and trade restrictions Thursday. With the new rules in place, U.S. citizens will be able to travel to Cuba without applying for a special travel license.
Cuomo will be involved in at least five trade missions during his second term as governor, with Cuba as his first trip, a source told the Journal. The governor also announced last year he has tentative plans to travel to Israel, China, Italy, Canada and Mexico in 2015. Cuomo did little traveling during his first term but hopes establishing import and export deals with other countries will help the struggling economy in upstate New York, the Journal reported.
Travel to Cuba as a tourist is still prohibited, but U.S. citizens can enter the country without special permission if the trip falls under one of 12 categories, including family visits, educational trips and travel for religious reasons. Official U.S. government business is also among reasons American citizens can enter Cuba without special permission.
The U.S. moved forward with lifting travel and trade restrictions one month after Obama confirmed the U.S. would open diplomatic relations with Cuba. An agreement with Cuban President Raúl Castro also includes a prisoner exchange.
The U.S. embargo against Cuba was in place for more than 50 years. During talks with Castro, Obama called the U.S. isolation policy a failure. Despite the relaxation of restrictions, various prohibitions are still in place, including a $400 limit on how much visitors can spend on souvenirs and a $100 limit on tobacco and alcohol.