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U.S. seeks partners to advance Americas economic plan

By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken joined counterparts across the Americas on Friday as they sought to advance efforts to forge regional economic partnerships to create In the frame President Joe Biden announced at the Los Angeles summit in June. Help deepen trade relationships, strengthen post-pandemic supply chains, strengthen good governance and reform regional institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank.

Blinken called it “an ambitious initiative with high standards” and said it was open to other countries willing to meet those standards. But he did not elaborate on how the partnership would work in his remarks to the group.

Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Jose Fernandez told reporters Washington was aiming for a deal this year.

Friday’s meeting was aimed at advancing proposals that Biden unveiled at the Summit of the Americas as part of efforts to rebuild U.S. influence and counter growing Chinese economic encroachment in Latin America. The Biden administration also wants to boost the economic development of its poorer neighbors to help curb irregular immigration at the U.S. southern border.

The summit itself was fraught with controversy surrounding Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Auberi’s Radol led a boycott of the event by several other countries.

However, Mexico on Friday joined what Blinken said was the “official launch” of the partnership. It includes Canada, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.

“This is just the beginning,” Biden said in a statement. “I look forward to meeting with the leaders of the Partnership of the Americas to discuss how we can continue to deepen our economic cooperation and leverage our strengths.”

Deputy Minister Fernandez insisted “this is not necessarily about China.” But other U.S. officials have made clear their concerns about China’s growing economic footprint in the region.

On Friday, Blinken and several other ministers said challenges facing the region included rising energy prices linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A White House fact sheet says one of the partnership’s goals is to lay the groundwork for expanded investment, “including customs procedures, trade facilitation, logistics, good Regulatory practices and non-tariff barriers.”

But the plan does not provide tariff relief, but includes some countries that already have trade agreements with the United States.



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