Packed into a deserted corner of a pavilion, only thirteen companies of the United States took stands at the sprawling trade fair this year which is a sign of how the interests of the companies in doing business on the island has dwindled in the first year of the presidency of Donald Trump. In the previous year, among the enthusiasm following a détente in relations which was agreed between the former president of the United States Barack Obama and the leader of Cuba Raul Castro in the year 2014. About 33 companies of the United States took part in the fair which is actually a premier event on the business calendar of Cuba. But the mood was completely different in the edition of the event of this year which took place last week in Havana.
At the same time, China brought a record company delegation and more than about 150 Spanish businesses packed into five pavilions where a mere handful of businesses of the United States were. Jay Brickman who is the vice president of a Florida based shipping company Crowley Maritime Corporation and has been attending this trade fair for the last 15 years said that he had never seen it this deserted. The people are really discouraged and they feel that they may be investing their time in some other places. The companies of the United States embraced Cuba in the wake of this detente fighting for a foothold in an opening market of 11 million consumers.
Starwood Hotels which is a subsidiary of Marriott International Inc, took over management of a Hotel in Cuba and cruise operators like Florida based Carnival Cruise Line included Cuba in their itineraries. But this is worsening US relations as well as growing awareness of the difficulty of preceding with business in Cuba put a dampener on that. In June Donald Trump ordered stricter trade and travel restrictions which included a ban on business with the military, that controls the vast swathes of the economy. All regulations were uncovered on Wednesday. The former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez of the United States and the Cuba born head of the United States - Cuba Business Council said that this is a huge step backwards after we have made so much progress.