Representatives from america’ agricultural sector arrived in Cuba on Thursday for a convention aimed toward selling gross sales, one of many few U.S. enterprise areas allowed to cope with the island underneath a half-century-old commerce embargo that Cuban leaders blame for many of its financial troubles.

The U.S.-Cuba Agriculture Coalition will discover potential alternatives for American agriculture producers looking for a market on the island. Cuba imports most of its meals merchandise from overseas, a multibillion-dollar market that has flourished regardless of U.S. sanctions.

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Relations between each international locations normalized considerably after former U.S. President Barack Obama loosened the commerce embargo whereas in workplace. However President Donald Trump has intensified sanctions, making it tougher for People to journey to Cuba and conduct enterprise.

In 2017, america bought $260 million of meals to Cuba, however the determine was one of many lowest on this decade and paled compared to the $450 million of U.S. meals bought in 2012.

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The island nonetheless can not promote its personal merchandise within the U.S. and isn’t given credit score to assist pay for imports because of the embargo.

Cuba spends about $2 billion a 12 months to import meals for its 11 million residents, who’re given nearly free rations every month of merchandise similar to hen, rice and milk.

Phil Peters, a visit organizer, stated U.S. agribusiness is involved in exporting extra merchandise to Cuba and enhancing regulatory situations, and in “constructing a broader and extra regular relationship in which there’s funding and shared enterprise.”

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About 30 members had been assembly with officers on the convention and visiting farms and cooperatives within the Caribbean nation. The group is scheduled to remain till Saturday.

“Our nation finds itself totally updating its financial mannequin,” Cuban deputy agriculture minister Jose Miguel Rodriguez de Armas stated on the opening of the convention. “The issues of the agriculture sector are crucial for the event of our nation.”

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