How Alliances Are Bolstering Economic Growth in the Western Hemisphere

Alliances among the United States and Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic have been created to protect human rights and strengthen the Western economy.


Air Date: February 16, 2022

Moderator: Anne McKinney, Vice President, Americas

Featured Guests: Luis Laguerre, Chair, AACCLA, Neil Herrington, Senior Vice President, Americas, H.E. Erika Mouynes, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Panama, H.E. Rodolfo Solano Quirós, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Costa Rica, H.E. Roberto Álvarez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominican Republic, Ilan Goldfajn, Director, Western Hemisphere Department, International Monetary Fund, Marisa Lago, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce

Although COVID-19 has impacted economic growth within the Latin America and Caribbean region, 2022 has brought a great sense of optimism. Leaders across the world are focusing on renewing relationships and promoting policies that will set the region up for success.

To bolster this success, the U.S. Chamber’s Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) hosted the Outlook on the Americas conference, where business leaders discussed an alliance between the Americas and the U.S. engagement in the Western Hemisphere.

Fostering Growth Across the Americas with an Alliance

An alliance between Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic has been put in place to protect human rights and democracy. H.E. Rodolfo Solano Quirós, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, discussed the core pillars guiding the initiative.

“Let me be clear about this important issue: democracy, human rights, and freedom of press and expression are under attack in our region, and in other places worldwide,” Solano Quirós said. “The regional situation is a call for action to find the best partners to work together — to convene joint actions that lead to prosperity, sustainable development economic reactivation, and recovery. The alliance is a response to that call to action.”

The alliance promotes “better communication and comprehension between our countries and strategic partners, such as the United States, and allows for a flexible dialogue space to exchange points of view on a regular basis with a double purpose of providing mutual support and launching joint initiatives,” he continued.

H.E. Erika Mouynes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, sees the alliance as a way to unify efforts to bolster democracy. Discussing ways to work with other countries, she touched upon the economic opportunities the alliance holds.

“You have these three solid economies — the unifying link among all three of them being the support for democracy, for the rule of law, and for the protection of human rights,” Mouynes said. “Fostering that cooperation among our countries strengthens our democratic institutions, but it also allows economic opportunities for our people in our region.”

An Economic Agenda to Protect Democracy

H.E. Roberto Álvarez, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, focused on the economic agenda and how the alliance will shape trade around the world.

“We've formed this Alliance within this environment,” he explained. “We thought that our three countries could gain greater visibility if we came together and we showed to the world how democracies can actually deliver, and how we, the three small countries with a total population of basically 20 million, have perhaps one of the higher per-capita trading exchanges with the United States and other countries — way above larger countries within our region.”

Álvarez addressed the regionalization of production and how it has affected the region's decision to form an alliance.

“Given our strategic locations … we are within a very short delivery time of the United States,” Álvarez said. “Our three countries on average have 40% U.S. content on the goods that we trade, so there is a win-win for the three countries involved. We are poised to take off our already considerable trade balance to even greater heights if we're able to take this to the next stage.”

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Engagement in the Western Hemisphere

Discussing the International Trade Association’s (ITA) impact on the region, Marisa Lago, the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, touched upon the obstacles ITA is facing, and the commitments they’ve made to build a better future.

“After three decades of broadly expanding freedoms and growth, the region faces a difficult path forward with faltering economies, weakening rule of law and citizens losing faith in democracy — conditions that drive migration, which further destabilizes the region,” Lago said.

“Reversing these trends and building a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future in the Americas is a Biden-Harris administration priority that guides our work at ITA,” Lago continued. “ITA is deeply committed to building a more prosperous and inclusive economy through strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. businesses and workers, by promoting trade and investment and by ensuring fair trade practices.”