LOS ANGELES, June 8 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a new US economic partnership with Latin America aimed at countering China’s growing influence.
Biden, who hosted the U.S. summit in Los Angeles, sought to reassure assembled leaders about the commitment of his administration in the region, despite concerns that Washington might at times try to dictate to its poorer southern neighbors.
Following Fiden’s withdrawal from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the number of visiting heads of state and heads of government was reduced to 21, prompting Mexican President Andres Manuel Lpez Obrador and several other leaders to stay away from the protests.
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“We want to invest in building our businesses that are sustainable and that are highly flexible, secure and stable supply chains,” Biden said at an exhibition opening ceremony.
Biden seeks to present Latin American countries as an alternative to China, which calls for increased US economic involvement, including greater investment and the building of existing trade agreements.
However, his “American Partnership for Economic Prosperity” still appears to be active, stopping providing tariff relief, and, according to a senior executive, initially the U.S. Trade agreements. Negotiations are expected to begin in early autumn, the official added.
Biden outlined his plan when launching the summit, which will serve as a platform for US leadership to revive Latin American economies and address the record level of irregular migration along the US-Mexico border.
But his agenda has been undermined by the partial boycott of leaders upset by Washington’s decision to cut off its main left-wing rivals in the region.
As a result, as the visiting dignitaries walked one after the other on the red carpet surrounded by a military honor guard, Biden greeted a larger-than-usual group of foreign ministers seated for their national leaders.
U.S. officials hope that the summit and the joint meeting of business executives will lead to greater cooperation as governments fight more inflationary work to bring the extended supply chains of the COVID-19 epidemic closer to home.
Biden also used his speech to preview the summit announcement on Friday, which he called a “wonderful, integrated new approach” with shared responsibility across the hemisphere. But he gave some details.
Even as Biden deals with priorities such as mass firing, high inflation and the war in Ukraine, the US official is seeking to press the administration’s competitive goals against China by launching a new alliance for the region.
The US plan is to revive the US Interstate Development Bank and create clean energy jobs.
Nonetheless, the administration seemed to be moving cautiously, as the initiative to promote jobs abroad could face a push by US protectionists.
China’s challenge is clearly a key concept.
Since Biden took office in January 2021, China has widened the trade gap over the United States in large parts of Latin America.
An exclusive Reuters analysis of UN trade data for 2015-2021 shows that outside Mexico, China, the United States’ leading trading partner, outperformed the United States in Latin America and increased its benefits last year. read more
“The best alternative to China’s infiltration into the region is to ensure that we present our own firm vision for the region economically,” the executive said.
Biden’s aides have designed the summit as an opportunity for the United States to reassert its leadership in Latin America, after years of comparative boycott under his predecessor, Donald Trump.
But diplomatic tensions opened up this week when Washington decided not to invite the three countries, which they say violates human rights and democratic values.
Rejecting his call for all nations to be invited, Lopez Obrador said he was distracted and distracted from the US administration’s goals and regional divisions.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the non – attendance of some leaders reflected their own “unique decisions” and that considerable work was still to be accomplished.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the United States had no “moral authority” to lecture on democracy and thanked Lopez Obrador for his “unity”.
The leaders of Guatemala and Honduras, two countries that send more immigrants to the United States, stayed at home and raised questions about the significance of the forthcoming Joint Migration Declaration.
However, leaders from more than 20 countries, including Canada, Brazil and Argentina, are attending the US-hosted summit for the first time since its inaugural session in 1994.
Biden will hold talks with Brazilian President Jair Bolzano on Thursday on climate change and the topic of “open, transparent and democratic elections in Brazil.” read more
Trump’s populist Bolsanaro, who had a cold relationship with Biden, has raised doubts about Brazil’s voting system ahead of the October election, with opinion polls showing that he lost to left-wing rival Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
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Report by Trevor Hunnicutt, Daina Beth Solomon, Matt Spetalnick, Dave Graham, Humeyra Pamuk; Additional report by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Dave Sherwood; Written by Matt Spadelnick and Dave Graham; Editing by Grand McCauley and Richard Bullin
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