Tourists walk in Havana, Cuba, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
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Packed into a remote corner of a pavilion, just 13 U.S. companies took stands at Cuba's sprawling trade fair this year, in a sign of how firms' interest in doing business on the island has dwindled in the first year of Donald Trump's presidency. Last year, amid enthusiasm following a detente in relations agreed between former President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro in 2014, 33 U.S. companies took stands at the fair, the premier event on Cuba's business calendar.U.S. companies embraced Cuba in the wake of the detente, jostling for a foothold in an opening market of 11 million consumers.Worsening U.S. relations as well as growing awareness of the difficulty of doing business in Cuba put a dampener on that.Several Cuba business conferences in the U.S. have also been canceled since June, including an agriculture conference in Chicago.Following the Obama detente, U.S. farmers hoped for legislation allowing them to access credit for exports to Cuba. The diplomatic crisis has also complicated the logistics for U.S. businesses. The Trump administration in September expelled 15 Cuban diplomats, including all those dealing with U.S. businesses.
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