Government of Canada will defend interests of Canadians doing business in Cuba


April 17, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding Canadian businesses operating in Cuba and the decision by the United States not to suspend Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996, commonly known as the Helms-Burton Act:

“Canada is deeply disappointed with today’s announcement. We will be reviewing all options in response to this U.S. decision.

“Since the U.S. announced in January it would review Title III, the Government of Canada has been regularly engaged with the U.S. government to raise our concerns about the possible negative consequences for Canadians—concerns that are long-standing and well known to our U.S. partners.

“I have met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to register those concerns. Canadian and U.S. officials have had detailed discussions on the Helms-Burton Act and Canada’s Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act. I have also discussed this issue with the EU.

“I have been in contact with Canadian businesses to reaffirm we will fully defend the interests of Canadians conducting legitimate trade and investment with Cuba.”

Quick facts

  • The Helms-Burton Act came into force in the United States in 1996. The act aims to prevent foreign countries from engaging in international trade with Cuba by subjecting foreign nationals to travel restrictions and financial liabilities in the United States. Since then, successive U.S. administrations have continuously suspended application of Title III (financial liabilities) in the maximum six-month increments.
  • On January 16, 2019, the U.S. Secretary of State notified Congress that he would be suspending Title III for 45 days, instead of the typical six months, in order to conduct a careful review of the right to bring action under the Title. 
  • In 1996, the Government of Canada amended its Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act to mitigate the extraterritorial effects of the Helms-Burton Act and to offer explicit legal protections for Canadian businesses. 

Associated links


Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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