Trade Background: The Americas

Trade Background: The Americas

Menendez, Risch, Rubio, Kaine Introduce REsolution REcognizing 9th Summit of the Americas, Hosted by U.S.
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, March 17, 2021

Menedez, Rubio Lead Introduction of Groundbreaking Legislation to Strengthen U.S. Competitiveness and Address China’s Engagement in the Americas
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, August 14, 2020

Yes, Really: It’s Time to Revive Hemispheric Trade Talks
Latin Trade, August 6, 2020

América Crece Initiative: Expanded Growth in the Americas

On December 17, 2019 the U.S. government will launch its whole-of-government Growth in the Americas/America Crece initiative in Washington, DC. The Growth in the Americas/America Crece initiative is an innovative approach to support economic growth by catalyzing private sector investment in energy and infrastructure projects across Latin America and the Caribbean, including telecommunications, ports, roads, and airports as just a few examples. The initiative focuses on increasing public-private engagement, sharing best practices, and creating opportunities to expand economic ties with the United States.

Summit of the Americas

Summit of the Americas, U.S. Department of State

The Summit of the Americas are institutionalized gatherings of heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere where leaders discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level to address continuing and new challenges faced in the Americas. The Summit is held every three years. The Eighth Summit of the Americas was held on April 13 and 14, 2018 in Lima, Peru.

The United States hosted the Ninth Summit of the Americas in June 2022 in Los Angeles, originally scheduled for the second half of 2021, but postponed due to COVID-19. The Summit takes place once every three years and is the only meeting of all leaders from the countries of North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. This was the first time the United States has hosted the Summit since the inaugural meeting in Miami in 1994.

Governor Newsom Welcomes World Leaders to California for Summit of the Americas, Highlights Golden State Diversity and Economic Strength
Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, June 6, 2022

Los Angeles to Host Summit of Americas
CalChamber Alert, January 28, 2022

President Biden Announces Host City for Ninth Summit of the Americas
White House, January 18, 2022

President Trump was unable to attend the 2018 Summit of the Americas in Lima as planned as he had to tend to other international matters. Vice President Pence went in his place. The theme of this year’s summit was “Democratic Governance against Corruption”.  Leaders vowed to confront systemic corruption at a time when graft scandals plague many of the governments that make up the Americas. Sixteen of the 33 nations gathered at the summit issued a statement on the sidelines of the event calling on Venezuela to hold free and transparent elections as well as allow international aid. Vice President Pence gave remarks at the summit. White House, April 15, 2018.

America’s Leaders Take Stand on Corruption at Subdued Summit
US News, April 14, 2018

The Pacific Alliance

The Pacific Alliance is an initiative of regional integration comprised by Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, officially established on April 28th, 2011. It’s objectives are to build, in a participatory and consensual way, an area of deep integration to move progressively towards the free movement of goods, services, resources and people. As well as, to drive further growth, development and competitiveness of the economies of its members, focused on achieving greater well-being, overcoming socioeconomic inequality and promote the social inclusion of its inhabitants by becoming a platform of political articulation, economic and commercial integration and projection to the world, with emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. The Pacific Alliance is a strategic platform because: it seeks deeper integration of services, resources, investments and movement of people; it is an open and inclusive integration process, comprised by countries with similar visions of development and of free trade; and it is a dynamic initiative with a high potential and business projection. The Pacific Alliance has many strengths, it is the eighth economic power and the eighth export force worldwide. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the block of countries represents 38% of the GDP, 50% of the total trade, and attracts 45% of the foreign direct investment. The four countries gather a population of 216 million persons and have an average per capita GDP of USD 9, 910. The population is mainly young and constitutes a qualified labor force as well as an attractive subset of consumers whose purchase power is in constant growth. US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce 

Mexico Says South Korea Seeking Associate Membership of Pacific Alliance Reuters, July 23, 2018

Pacific Alliance Admits Four New Associate Members TZNV, June 29, 2017 – The Pacific Alliance admitted News Zealand, Australia, Canada and Singapore as associate members. The associate membership status is seen as a first step towards expanding trade and investment with the group, a major supporter of free trade in the region. The alliance also announced it is looking at the possibility of creating a single passport for its four core member countries.

Lima Declaration, August 8, 2017 

Declaration on ways to restore peace and democracy in Venezuela from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Representatives from 12 countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The 2016 Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean
February 2017

Remarks at the 20th Anniversary of the Summit of the Americas

(December 10, 2014) “Twenty years ago this week, President Clinton – hard to believe it’s 20 years already – brought together 34 democratically elected leaders in Miami for the first Summit of the Americas. And the President was unequivocal about the mission. He called on leaders from across the region to open new markets and to create new free trade zones, to strengthen the movement towards democracy, and to improve the quality of life for all our people. He said simply, “If we’re successful, the summit will lead to more jobs, opportunity and prosperity for our children and for generations to come.”

Today, as we gear up for next April’s Summit of the Americas in Panama, we find ourselves really closer than ever to realizing that vision.

The progress hasn’t always been steady. It hasn’t always been even. It hasn’t always been forward. But progress has been hard won.”John Kerry, featured in U.S. State Department, December 10, 2014

September 2014 – “The four presidents of Latin America’s $2.1 trillion Pacific Alliance bloc said integration is a tool for fighting inequality and they will seek a common agenda with the Mercosur group, led by Brazil and Argentina.”

“The leaders of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile said closer ties will boost growth that can reduce poverty in what Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called the most unequal region of the world. Pacific Alliance officials plan to meet with Mercosur counterparts in November to discuss areas of agreement, she said yesterday at the Bloomberg Latin America Forum in New York.”

“Costa Rica is in the process of becoming the fifth member of the bloc, while Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said yesterday in an interview that he discussed joining the alliance with Bachelet.”

Bloomberg, September 23, 2014

June 2012 – Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru now have an accord aimed at developing closer economic ties and boosting trade with Asia-Pacific countries, leaders from the four countries, which have a combined GDP of more than US$2 trillion and over 200 million consumers, and make up 40 percent Latin America’s GDP and 55 percent of the its total exports.

Hemisphere-Wide Agreement

On December 11, 1994, at the Summit of the Americas held in Miami, leaders of the 34 Western Hemisphere nations (excluding Cuba) agreed to establish the world’s largest free trade bloc. A Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would unite the economies of the Americas into a single free trade area and progressively eliminate barriers to trade and investment.

The FTAA is still under negotiation, but is no longer the agreement originally envisioned in 1994. The new framework agreed to at a Ministerial meeting in 2003 called for the creation of a “common set of rights and obligations” applicable to all FTAA nations, while also permitting countries to pursue additional commitments through multilateral agreements under the umbrella of the FTAA. Following the fourth Summit of the Americas in November 2005, which was attended by President George Bush and other leaders of the region, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas Shannon, commented, ” While 29 of the 34 regional democracies are prepared to move forward immediately toward the creation of an FTAA, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela are not.” Talks are currently on hold.

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would be a nearly $21 trillion economic area with over 955 million consumers. Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA/ALCA)

Other Trade Agreements

The Americas are well developed as markets for regional trade and investment. The United States has signed and implemented multiple Free Trade Agreements with Latin American nations, and is currently negotiating with others, including Colombia and Panama.

The Common Market of the Southern Cone (MERCOSUR) was established in 1991 to encourage economic cooperation among the countries of South America. Products put together in the MERCOSUR can circulate without tariffs if no more than 40 percent of the export value of the final good is made of materials originating in a fellow MERCOSUR country. The organization was originally made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, with Chile and Bolivia as associate members. Venezuela became a full member in 2006. Other associate members now include Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. The MERCOSUR is also negotiating agreements with India and more than 30 other nations.

Mexican trade policy is among the most open in the world, with 43 total Free Trade Agreements including those with the United States, Canada, the EU, and Israel. Mexico’s emphasis on foreign trade has made it one of the world’s top 20 importers and exporters. The United States remains Mexico’s principal trading partner and investor, with the European Union and Japan following in second and third place. Mexico is the only country besides Israel which has Free Trade Agreements with the two largest markets in the world – Europe and North America.

Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The member nations are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela. The agreement was initially proposed as an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).