The United States announced changes to its sanctions on Cuba, lifting export payment and financing restrictions and facilitating airline travel in Washington's latest move to ease the US embargo on the island. The amendments, which take effect on Wednesday 27 January, "will remove restrictions on payment and financing terms for authorised exports and re-exports to Cuba of items other than agricultural items or commodities," according to a statement from the Treasury and Commerce Departments.

The changes will make travel to Cuba easier by allowing space and leasing arrangements with Cuban airlines, it said. They will authorise additional transactions dealing with professional meetings, disaster preparedness, and transactions in professional media or artistic productions in Cuba, it said – such as making films or music videos.

The latest changes come as Washington and Havana move closer toward normal relations after more than half a century of hostility that followed Cuba's 1959 revolution. The two countries restored diplomatic ties and reopened embassies in the summer of 2015.

"Today's amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations build on successive actions over the last year and send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to empowering and enabling economic advancements for the Cuban people," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in the statement.