U.S. invests billions in Latin America

Cable-stayed bridge spanning river (© R.M. Nunes/Alamy)
The Octávio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, commonly known as Ponte Estaiada, is pictured in São Paulo, Brazil. Brazil is one of several countries in which the U.S. government plans to invest. (© R.M. Nunes/Alamy)

The U.S. government and private sector continue to invest in Latin America, spurring economic growth across many countries.

The U.S. private and public sectors remain the leading business partner in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Central and South America. Through its América Crece initiative, the U.S. government is partnering with governments to attract private-sector investment in several areas of infrastructure, including energy, transportation and telecommunications across the region.

Trade between the United States and the Western Hemisphere totals nearly $2 trillion annually, according to Michael Kozak, U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

“We support entrepreneurship and free enterprise. We believe in transparency and procurements that go to the best bidder,” Kozak said September 1. “And we expect our investors will respect laws on corruption, labor standards, worker safety and the environment. Not every country can say that.”

Since the initiative was launched in 2018 and expanded in 2019, 10 countries have signed América Crece agreements with the U.S., including recent additions El Salvador, Ecuador, Brazil, Honduras and Bolivia.

To support efforts under América Crece, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) recently announced its intent to catalyze up to $2 billion in investment in Honduras and Guatemala. This funding will bolster critical infrastructure and support small businesses in Honduras and development projects in Guatemala.

The DFC plans to invest over $12 billion across Central America over the next five years, Kozak said.

And these investments are even more important to help nations recover economically from COVID-19 in the long term.

Under América Crece, the United States has established a program to facilitate bilateral, technical exchanges on economic topics.

The United States led a technical delegation to Ecuador on data privacy, to Peru on infrastructure procurement, and to Peru and Colombia on the digital economy and 5G network security.

As part of the initiative, the United States also hosted a seminar on cybersecurity in the electricity sector in Panama, as well as a panel discussion on promoting energy diversification and resilience in the Caribbean to spur increased investment in that region.

The United States has partnered with Argentina to support offshore safety and governance and with Peru to support sustainable development of energy mineral resources in line with international best practices.

The DFC has enhanced its investment programs on economically empowering women in the region, surpassing its initial $500 million goal and committing to catalyzing an additional $500 million.

In December 2019, the United States expanded its Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership by dedicating $10 million to Latin America and the Caribbean. The partnership is an effort to promote an open, reliable, interoperable and secure internet across the globe.

“The United States will continue to be the partner of choice in helping the region overcome this challenge,” Kozak said, “but with or without COVID, growth is the essential condition for cementing democratic institutions and completing the vision of the hemisphere of freedom.”