The first day of the United States Chamber of Commerce Americas CEO Summit ended after a whirlwind of shows featuring government leaders and business leaders from across the region. Discussions focused on how the public and private sectors can cooperate to improve the rule of law, strengthen trade, expand economic opportunities, help small and medium-sized businesses in the region, strengthen health systems and foster digital transformation.
If you weren’t able to follow today’s events, we’ve summarized the main takeaways below:
Increase economic opportunity, innovation and inclusion
Expanding economic innovation and inclusion in the Americas is a key priority for the United States and Latin America. This week, the Biden administration announced a flurry of economic deals with the region, including the American Partnership for Economic Prosperity.
Business leaders are also using the power of the private sector to expand economic opportunity, innovation and inclusion. Importantly, modern technologies are expanding market access for small and medium-sized enterprises – which includes most Latin American businesses.
Expanding cost-effective access to digital infrastructure and tools is imperative to expanding economic growth. Sarah Jane Gunter, Vice President of Latin America Consumer Business for Amazon, said, “We know that to truly maximize the impact of e-commerce in the Americas, small and medium-sized businesses need the support of governments to manage the most possible costs. -prohibitive components of operating an e-commerce business. »
Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Meta, discussed how new digital technologies such as the growing Metaverse will expand economic opportunities in the Americas. The metaverse, Clegg explained, will not only create new digital marketplaces and marketplaces, but also expand access to high-quality, immersive educational instruction. The result of this digital transformation will be profound, Clegg noted: “Over the next 10 years, the Metaverse could bring a 5% improvement to Latin American GDP.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that the importance of private sector engagement cannot be overstated: “The private sector is a critical partner in virtually everything we do. One of the greatest strengths we bring to the table is our ability to work with the private sector in ways other countries don’t or can’t. So we want to see that mobilized as much as possible. »
Boosting trade and investment
Private sector efforts to expand economic opportunity, innovation and inclusion are reflected in a simultaneous need for governments to reduce barriers to growth. This means expanding opportunities for trade in goods and services throughout the Western Hemisphere. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), U.S. goods and services trade with the western hemisphere accounted for $1.9 trillion in 2019. Yet tariff and non-tariff trade barriers limit growth in the region.
Vice President Kamala Harris thanked the U.S. Chamber, the Central America Partnership, and more than 40 companies and organizations for their investment commitments in the region, saying, “We have now generated more than 3, $2 billion. This investment is on the way to generating tens of thousands of jobs. It will help more than 10 million people to access banking services and credit. And 2 million people are already connected to the Internet, and millions more will follow.
President Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador succinctly outlined his administration’s trade policy, saying, “Our policy is quite clear: more Ecuador in the world and more of the world in Ecuador. We are looking for more trade from Ecuador to the world and more investment from the world to Ecuador.
In his opening remarks, U.S. House Executive Vice President Myron Brilliant challenged leaders gathered at the Summit of the Americas to expand trade into new economic sectors. “Why not pursue a digital trade deal that would allow data to cross borders, prohibit forced localization of data, and prohibit tariffs on electronic transmissions? ” he said. He continued, “In the short term, we should at least take the initiative to increase intra-regional trade by streamlining customs procedures and aligning digital regulations between countries.
Many countries in the Americas are looking to boost tourism as they look to boost economic growth after the pandemic. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said he believes tourism has a bright future. “And I think the tourism industry around the world – although it’s been shaken in the short term – I think in the long term it’s going to be a much stronger, much more resilient, more sustainable, greener industry. , inclusive and cost effective,” he said. .
Catherine Powell, global head of accommodations at Airbnb, shares this optimism, noting that “Airbnb customers in [the Latin America and Caribbean region] spent US$16.4 billion on direct tourism activities in 2021…and supported more than 400,000 jobs.”
Building a sustainable and resilient future
Vice President Harris emphasized the need for public-private collaboration: “Working together, we can unlock growth and opportunity that far exceeds what either the public sector or the private sector would achieve on its own.”
And that means working together to tackle the threat of climate change. The threat of climate change is more serious for some countries than for others in the Western Hemisphere. Prime Minister Philip Davis of the Bahamas explained, “The Bahamas has the distinction of regularly appearing in the top rankings of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. When hurricanes arrive, as they do with increasing frequency and intensity, they make headlines in your countries for a few days. But in our home we remain with grief and devastation.”
More than a healthy environment, resilient economies rely on healthy people. More than any other region in the world, Latin America has suffered the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Already strained public health systems have come under immense pressure. According to an analysis of the Wilson Center“The regional average for public health expenditure is only 3.7% of GDP, well below the 6% recommended by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).”
Sarah Aiosa, President of Latin America for Merck, said, “I hope this global crisis has really shed light on what is needed to be able to have a resilient healthcare system and populous nations that should become prosperous.
The President of the Republic of Peru, José Pedro Castillo, said his country was taking action. “My administration has increased the budget for the health sector by more than 6% compared to that of 2021. In addition, in 2022, we have allocated more than 1 billion soles to finance 56 investment projects in the sector. of health.”
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announced additional US government investment in the region saying, “We are preparing to announce this week, given our experience here, reaching out to communities to try to immunize them in a way that reaches everyone, including those who are often at risk of exclusion, we will begin Americas Health Corps to recruit up to half a million new health care workers in the Americas to help us bridge the gaps that exist across the hemisphere,” Becerra said.
Strengthening democratic governance and the rule of law
For economies and societies to thrive, perhaps no other need is more fundamental than the need for political stability and a strong rule of law. Strengthening democratic governance and the rule of law in the Western Hemisphere is imperative not only to safeguard the progress already made in expanding just and prosperous societies, but also to foster economic growth and stability. Capital flight is often the result of weak democratic and legal institutions. According to Paul Dyck, vice president of international government affairs at Walmart, “one of the biggest obstacles is the lack of transparency or the absence of the rule of law. This stifles development, innovation, growth and private sector investments.
President Rodrigo Chaves of Costa Rica underscored this by stating, “No society in the world has ever achieved prosperity without a vibrant, innovative and productive private sector that is allowed to operate free of corruption and corruption. And at the same time a government that provides the services that the private sector needs to generate value.
In his closing remarks to the CEO Summit of the Americas, Secretary of State Blinken expressed his desire that participants “hold themselves accountable to what is agreed upon here, to the commitments that we all make to try to move forward forward, then to see where we are. every step of the way.
To listen to the CEO Summit of the Americas or to view sessions from the event on demand, visit here.
About the authors
Associate Director, Communications and Strategy
Richard is an associate director in the communications and strategy team.