Companies in the United States continue to develop strategies to do business with the Cuban government despite the U.S. embargo's aim to isolate the Communist island from the global economy.
Deere & Company, the Illinois-based leading maker of John Deere farm and construction equipment, started to consider the potential of the market after former President Barack Obama moved to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba three years ago. They just signed a deal.
"We expect several hundred machines and associated implements to enter into the Cuban market over the next roughly four years," said Charles Stamp Jr., Deer & Company's vice president of corporate strategy and business development.
Despite the U.S.-Cuba changes in diplomatic relations under President Donald Trump, the presence of U.S. companies has been strong during the Feria Internacional de la Habana, or FIHAV, Cuba's most important commercial fair. It's being held this week in Havana from Monday to Friday.
A little-known exception allows U.S. companies to sell food to Cuba's state-owned company, but not on credit, which puts U.S. producers at a disadvantage in the global market. State-owned company Alimport has used this demand to help garner support against the U.S. embargo from lawmakers. The U.S. has eased commerce restrictions.
Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bail Gooden had a booth at the fair. There were pictures showing industrial farming and a sign in Spanish: "The agricultural and livestock abundance of Virginia."
"We are working with our representatives in Washington, D.C., letting them know how important we feel that free and open trade, certainly with Cuba, will be mutually beneficial," Gooden said.