On the trade front, a change in the supply chain from Asia to Latin America would help U.S. businesses be more competitive at the global level and reduce the country’s excessive dependence on China. The shortage of face masks and respirators during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic (as well as Donald Trump’s disastrous crisis management) demonstrated the dangers for the U.S. in depending almost entirely on China for critical supplies.
Furthermore, a Latin American economic resurgence would boost U.S. exports and create millions of jobs in the country.
Few people know it, but U.S. businesses exported $571 million to Latin America in 2019 — three times more than the $164 million they exported to China, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. Imagine how much more they could export to Latin America if the region recovers from its current crisis and begins to grow again!
In terms of immigration, experts predict a significant increase in illegal immigration from Mexico and the rest of the region as a result of the pandemic. The Latin American economy is already projected to fall by 9% this year — more than any other region in the world.
But, unfortunately, instead of proposing a new trade agreement for the Americas, Joe Biden’s economic platform is strongly influenced by Trump’s protectionism and isolationism.
Biden’s website, www.JoeBiden.com, says that if he is elected, “he will create millions of new manufacturing and innovation jobs throughout all of America.” The subheadings of his six-point economic plan are in this order on his website: “Buy American,” “Make it in America,” “Innovate in America,” “Invest in all of America,” “Stand up for America,” and “Supply America.” It adds that Biden will make “a historic procurement investment in American products, services, supply chains, and transportation of goods.”
All of this sounds very good and could be politically advantageous during an election year, but it doesn’t make sense. If American businesses were to produce all of their supplies in the country, their products would be inaccessible to the majority of Americans and too expensive to be exported.
Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB, told me in an interview that this would be the perfect moment to create a new hemispheric market. The idea was presented in different ways during the Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, and it usually was ruled out by left-wing governments in Latin America.
The current great recession could be an excellent opportunity to propose a new plan for hemispheric trade. So, candidate Biden, please change your platform. Strike a difference with Trump and propose a regional plan, because a rising tide lifts all boats, and nowhere is this more true than in the Americas.
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