The goal of the America Crece initiative, or, in English, the America Grows initiative, is that entrepreneurs have incentives and security to invest in the countries of the hemisphere and that the plan has immediate and concrete impact.
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On Tuesday December 17, 2019, the U.S. government officially rolled out the America Grows Initiative. This is a program aimed at promoting job creation in the Americas and reviving economic growth, as well as facilitating infrastructure projects that are greatly needed throughout the region.
At the White House event introducing the America Grows Initiative, Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, explained that the effort is about “working with our allies and economic partners on growth and reforms that drive private sector investments in huge opportunity areas such as energy and infrastructure.”
Mnuchin went on to note that over the past two years the Treasury has signed agreements with Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica and Panama. Additionally, the America Grows Initiative includes a subregional program that will integrate El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, to provide opportunity for the private sector in each of these countries. The goal of the initiative is to increase investment, market diversification, energy security and overall economic growth. He also added that “the U.S. economy was created through the strength of competitive and open markets that stimulate private investment, and that is something that we want to replicate.”
The event was attended by finance, energy and infrastructure ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, and other senior U.S. officials were present.
The region encompassed by the America Crece initiative reportedly needs between US $100 billion and US $150 billion annually in investment in new infrastructure. Due to the growth of population centers and economic markets, greater investment is needed to ensure market diversification, energy security and continued growth. President Trump’s special advisor and senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the National Security Council, Mauricio Claver-Caron, has observed that the America Crece initiative will serve as “a catalyst of growth for the private sector.”
Claver-Caron went on to state that because “the United States has the most vibrant economy in the world at present, U.S. leaders want that growth to be reflected in the rest of the Western Hemisphere with our neighbors and with our allies.” This includes the countries that make up the Northern Triangle in Central America of Central America, the Caribbean and the South American continent.
The America Crece initiative allows the U.S. government to use a number of mechanisms at its disposal that can help the private sector to invest in Latin America in order to drive future sustainable economic growth. The goal is to enable the countries of the region to develop so that there is a future for their citizens in their own countries, so that they do not have to seek to emigrate.
The America Crece initiative focuses on creating an environment that is conducive to private sector investment in energy and infrastructure that is transparent, competitive and in line with international best practices.
Efforts to get significant investment into the region in these sectors will be furthered through high-level diplomatic engagement, unofficial talks, technical assistance and exchanges, as well as through the use of bilateral dialogues and regional forums. The initiative will leverage a comprehensive set of tools to support specific projects, from previous feasibility studies to final investment decisions. Furthermore, work will be done to improve participating countries’ regulatory frameworks and procurement structures to meet the financing needs of resource-constrained projects.
The America Crece Initiative as a Counterweight to China
Trump administration officials stressed that with the America Crece initiative the aim is to accelerate, maintain and expand U.S. investment throughout the hemisphere. It has been noted that other external countries, such as China, have recently been able to capture friends and opportunities in the region.
Despite this development, the United States remains the overwhelmingly principal investor in the Western Hemisphere. This response is due to new closeness that the Chinese have fostered between countries such as Costa Rica and El Salvador. For instance, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador has recently finished a tour of China, which has offered to finance infrastructure projects and the construction of a new national sports stadium.
The central agencies that will lead the America Crece initiative are the Departments of State and Treasury, the Departments of Commerce and Energy, as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA) and the Corporation for Private Overseas Investment (OPIC), among others.
The only countries in the Western Hemisphere that will not be included in the initiative are Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
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