US president unveils Latin America economic plan, promises ‘ambitious actions’ at summit marred by diplomatic snubs.
Joe Biden, the president of the United States, has kicked off a regional summit marred by discord over the guest list by announcing a proposed new economic partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean aimed at countering China’s growing clout.
Hosting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Biden sought to assure the assembled leaders about his administration’s commitment to the region despite nagging concerns that the US, at times, is still trying to dictate to its poorer southern neighbors.
The lineup of visiting heads of state and government in attendance was thinned down to 21 after Biden excluded Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, prompting Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and several other leaders to stay away in protest.
Speaking at a gala opening ceremony, Biden said countries in the Americas have “to invest in making sure our trade is sustainable and responsible in creating supply chains that are more resilient, more secure and more sustainable”.
The Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity “will help economies grow from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top-down,” he said. “What’s true in the United States is true in every country. Trickle-down economics does not work.”
Biden is seeking to present Latin American and Caribbean countries with an alternative to China that calls for increased US economic engagement, including more investment and building on existing trade deals.
Data shows that China has widened the gap with the US in trade terms in large parts of Latin America since Biden came into office in January 2021.
“The best antidote to China’s inroads in the region is to ensure that we are forwarding our own affirmative vision for the region economically,” a senior US official said ahead of the summit.
However, Biden’s partnership, which still appears to be a work in progress, stops short of offering tariff relief and, according to the official, will initially focus on “like-minded partners” that already have US trade accords.
Negotiations are expected to begin in early northern fall, the official added.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES