Yellen Urges More US-Latin America Trade

( – The Biden administration is ramping up efforts to increase trade with countries in Latin America to build “the most prosperous Democratic hemisphere in the world.” Those were the words that President Biden spoke during a November 3 meeting with Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font and Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader.

Chilean President Boric discussed issues surrounding migration and development in Chile, while the Dominican Republic’s Abinader reassured Biden that the Dominican Republic was committed to maintaining a strong allied partnership with the United States. China and Russia have taken advantage of trade and investment opportunities in Latin American countries, prompting the United States to focus on building stronger partnerships in the Western Hemisphere.

Ahead of Biden’s meeting, United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered a speech on November 2 at the Inter-American Development Bank. She highlighted the Biden administration’s goal of working with allied nations to diversify supply chains. She told the audience that the plan would be beneficial “for fueling growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.” She discussed the extraction of lithium and production in Latin America, which would reduce dependence on China and create opportunities at the local level. She also discussed additional production of automotive chips, as well as medical and pharmaceutical companies adopting new innovations to meet consumer demand.

With the United States controlling 30 percent of the voting power at the bank, there would likely be no objection to providing grants, loans, and programs to fund the projects Yellen said. China has virtually no power at the bank with its 0.1 percent voting rights, but its economic relationships with members from at least 48 other countries could influence decision-making.

Many countries in Latin America have chosen to strengthen their diplomatic relationships with China by shunning Taiwan. However, the president of the bank recently told the Associated Press that the United States has the most influence out of all members.

The United States Congress is also looking to keep close tabs on China’s influence at the bank. Lawmakers recently introduced legislation in committee that would task the Treasury Department with reporting back to lawmakers every two years about China’s dealings with the bank.

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