Application of Cuba Sanctions to Foreign Companies

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about the Trump administration's Cuba policy during a press briefing at the US Department of State

The landmark tightening of the USA trade embargo on Cuba's communist government represents a major shift in US foreign policy - one that could place Canadian mining, tourism and financial services companies at risk in American courts. Now, lawsuits against any business or entity will be allowed, with no exemptions - including for American companies.

Canada's Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland said that her country was "deeply disappointed" and would be "reviewing all options in response to this USA decision".

Winterstein underlines the EU's "strong opposition to the extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures, which it considers contrary to global law".

The complete lifting of the ban could allow billions of dollars in legal claims to move forward in US courts and likely antagonize Canada and Europe, whose companies have significant business holdings in Cuba.

Freeland said the government regularly met with the US officials since January, when the issue first surfaced, to raise concerns about "the possible negative consequences for Canadians - concerns that are long-standing and well known to our USA partners".

The Trump administration is moving to allow lawsuits in USA courts against any company or entity doing business in Cuba using property seized in the 1959 revolution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday.

"Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement", Pompeo said.

The Canadian company with the highest Cuban profile essentially shrugged in response.

Among the foreign companies heavily invested in Cuba are Canadian mining firm Sherritt International Corp and Spain's Melia Hotels International SA. He said it was "business as usual" for its drilling and exploration projects.

"A massive Pandora's Box has been opened up with this", said Mark Agnew, director of worldwide policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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Bolton "will announce the enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act", a USA official said.

"The reaction of the European Union and Canada is very important because the Helms-Burton Act is an extraterritorial legislation in a world where trade is globalized". "We want to discourage USA persons from pursuing claims against Canadians".

When the US law came went into force in 1996, then-president Bill Clinton postponed the implementation of Title III. He says the Trump administration seems more interested in winning votes in South Florida than it is in settling those certified claims.

Lawsuits can begin starting May 2. Cuba has said it is willing to reimburse the owners of confiscated properties, but only if the communist government is also reimbursed for billions of dollars in damages generated by the six-decade US trade embargo.

The decision by President Donald Trump's administration to fully implement Title III was met with wide opposition from the European Union (EU) and Canada, whose companies have billions of dollars of investments in Cuba.

"The United States will consider such provocative actions a threat to worldwide peace and security in the region", he said.

The U.S. has recognised National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president and tightened sanctions on the country over the past few months.

In a fiery speech to the Bay of Pigs veterans group, on the anniversary of the failed CIA-orchestrated invasion of the island in 1958, Bolton said, "Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well".

WELNA: That will likely trigger an avalanche of lawsuits against the Cuban government according to Robert Muse, a Washington attorney who's an expert on Cuban expropriations.

He said Obama administration policies had given the Cuban government "political cover to expand its malign influence" across the region, including in Venezuela. "You will be defeated again this time".

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