U.S.-Venezuela relations focus on bilateral relations between the United States and Venezuela. Relations have traditionally been characterized by a significant commercial and investment relationship, as well as cooperation in the fight against the production and transit of illicit drugs. Since January 23, 2019, the United States and Venezuela have not had formal diplomatic relations, but maintain relations under the presidency of Juan Guaida, the controversial interim president recognized by some 54 countries, including the United States. When American diplomat Herbert Wolcott Bowen returned to Venezuela in January 1904, he noted that Venezuela seemed more peaceful and secure. Castro would assure Bowen that the United States and Venezuela had a strong relationship. However, after the Castro regime delayed the implementation of the agreements that ended the crisis in Venezuela in 1902/03, Bowen lost confidence. In the end, the result would be that the economic policies of the Castro regime would irritate the United States, France and the Netherlands.  This would play a decisive role in the Dutch-Venezuelan crisis of 1908. EU trade with Venezuela is affected by Venezuela`s ongoing economic crisis. Before the United States suspended diplomatic operations in Venezuela, the United States was Venezuela`s largest trading partner. Bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries reached $3.2 billion in 2019. In 2019, U.S.
merchandise exports to Venezuela totaled $1.2 billion. U.S. imports from Venezuela totaled $1.9 billion. In the past, U.S. exports to Venezuela included refined oil and petroleum products, machinery, organic chemicals and agricultural products. Crude oil dominated U.S. imports from Venezuela, which was one of the top five suppliers of foreign oil to the United States. By early 2019, Venezuelan crude oil imports averaged 500,000 barrels per day, but U.S. sanctions reduced them to zero. Previously, U.S. foreign direct investment in Venezuela focused primarily on the oil sector, but sanctions, combined with the poor trading environment, have significantly reduced these investments. The climate of trade and investment in Venezuela remains a challenge for EU operators, particularly given the economic policies and controls put in place in recent years, such as currency and price controls, expropriation and other forms of state intervention in the economy.