October 24, 2023
U.S. Secretary of Commerce, United States
Laura J. Richardson
Commander, U.S. Southern Command
John G. Murphy
Senior Vice President for International Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Latin America and the Caribbean have long been crucial partners to the U.S., both economically and strategically. Now, as the global landscape evolves, U.S. government leaders are urging a deeper economic collaboration with these regions.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s "Forecast on Latin America and the Caribbean" Conference, two government officials — Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo and Gen. Laura J. Richardson, commander of the U.S. Southern Command — discussed why strengthening our relationship and investing further into Latin America and the Caribbean can benefit our nation’s security and economy.
Building a Resilient Supply Chain Requires Diversification
As the largest source of foreign direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean region, the U.S. is responsible for almost $10 billion in merchandise exports and trade, according to Raimondo. However, she believes the U.S. is currently too dependent on China and Southeast Asia, negatively impacting national security.
Raimondo cited the semiconductor industry as an example, which is currently sending most of its chips used for the military to China for testing, as opposed to working with diversified regions in closer proximity.
“Having all of the chips in our fighter jets tested and packaged in China and Taiwan is a problem for our national security,” Raimondo said. “Mexico, Costa Rica, [and] other places in the Western Hemisphere are fantastically situated to do testing, packaging, [and] assembly of these chips.”
By partnering with other countries in the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. can create a less concentrated supply chain while simultaneously establishing new, high-paying jobs.
There Is Opportunity to Transform the ‘American Dream’ Into ‘America’s Dream’
With over 25% of the global agriculture and fisheries, along with 60% of the world’s lithium, housed in Latin America and the Caribbean regions, Richardson believes the Western hemisphere has the potential to feed and fuel the world. However, the region is facing challenges, including a migration crisis, that are impacting its overall success.
These challenges have prompted many migrants to achieve the "American Dream" by moving to the United States. Yet, Richardson believes there is an opportunity to transform this idea into the "America's Dream," in which migrants can fulfill their goals while staying in their own countries. To do so, she emphasized that the profiles of American companies must be raised to show region leaders the impact of the U.S.’s investments.
“We've got to talk about… what U.S. companies do with transparency, environmental standards, [and] labor standards,” Richardson said. “We hire the local workforce. That's not done with the Belt and Road Initiative by the Chinese… The presidents of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are not seeing the U.S. investment because we're not talking about it.”