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WORLD | 31-10-2023 12:53

Biden gathers leaders from across Americas to deepen ties

The White House envisions the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity as a platform that sees leaders meet every couple years and ministers work in between, according to senior administration officials. The session on Friday will concentrate on deepening trade and financial relationships.

US President Joe Biden on Friday will host almost a dozen leaders from throughout the Americas as his administration establishes a new forum to bolster regional competitiveness, address migration and its causes, and offer the US as a strategic alternative to China.

The White House envisions the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity as a platform that sees leaders meet every couple years and ministers work in between, according to senior administration officials. The session on Friday will concentrate on deepening trade and financial relationships.

Leaders expected to come to Washington include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and heads of government from Chile to Peru, according to the people familiar with the planning, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. Amid wars in Ukraine and Israel, the meeting will be Biden’s most extensive group engagement with leaders from the Western Hemisphere since the June 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

All of the countries participating other than Barbados, Ecuador and Uruguay have free-trade deals with the United States. With the Biden administration unwilling to negotiate comprehensive tariff-lowering agreements with new partners, the focus is on building more resilient supply chains for things like lithium and computer chips. The group doesn’t include more protectionist Brazil and Argentina, South America’s two largest economies, but it’s open for countries to join in the future, the officials said.

The gathering comes on the heels of an agreement this month that saw Venezuela’s government pledge to allow banned opposition candidates to run in the 2024 presidential election — the first major political concession in a decade — in exchange for sanctions relief. The Biden administration considers those kinds of developments and events like Friday’s summit as enhancements for US national security, the officials said.

The meeting will include a forum on “responsible investment” on Thursday hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to participate.

The US has been trying to aid countries in the region such as Ecuador to combat the surge in violence from organised crime; assist Mexico in confronting the poverty and insecurity that send undocumented migrants north; and help Panama and Costa Rica handle the waves of people passing through. Migrant encounters on the US southern border climbed to a record 2.5 million in the year ended in September.

A White House spokesman referred to a statement from US Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre earlier this month saying that Biden planned at the summit to “reaffirm the United States’ commitment to work together with our partners to deepen economic integration in our hemisphere, drive more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and tackle the underlying economic drivers of irregular migration in our hemisphere.”

by Eric Martin, Bloomberg

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