US President Joseph Biden pledged in Washington DC before a dozen leaders from Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay to boost economic ties while standing up to China and other global competitors seeking their slice of regional businesses. Also participating at the Summit of the Alliance of the Americas for Economic Prosperity (APEP) were senior representatives from Mexico and Panama. Biden said he hoped more countries would join the initiative. However, the gathering was shadowed by the ongoing crises in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, and the Russia-Ukraine war. Biden also pointed out that the goal was to “harness the incredible economic potential of the Americas and make the Western Hemisphere the most economically competitive region in the world,” drawing a sharp contrast with China’s practices. “We want to make sure that our closest neighbors know that they have a choice between debt trap diplomacy and transparent, high-quality approaches to infrastructure and interdevelopment,” he added. ”All we have to do is (…) continue to deliver on the positive vision we all share for a region that is secure, prosperous, and democratic,“ the Democratic head of state went on. In a joint statement, the leaders underscored their collective commitment to democracy, the rule of law, diversity and inclusion, decent work and well-paying jobs, environmental and social protection, labor rights, universal human rights, and fundamental freedoms in the Americas. ”We intend to establish the Americas as home to the world’s most competitive, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient regional value and supply chains,” the document read, focusing initially on clean energy, medical supplies, and semiconductors. The attendees also pledged to work with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to promote sustainable investment and catalyze regional growth while expanding trade and removing the barriers to greater economic integration. The IDB, the region’s largest development bank, will unveil a new financing platform serving middle- and high-income countries that could mobilize billions of dollars for renewable energy investments, US officials said. IDB President Ilan Goldfajn said the announcements “demonstrate our commitment to the goals” of the Alliance and “deepen the ties between the United States and the region.” The APEP is a spinoff from the Summit of the Americas held last year in Los Angeles amid the controversy unleashed by the absence of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, who were not invited. The White House said APEP aims to “establish a lasting forum to strengthen regional competitiveness and mobilize high-level investment in our hemisphere.” In their final summit declaration, the leaders recognize “the need to accelerate inclusive and sustainable trade and investment in the region, address the climate crisis, and expand social and economic opportunities that leave no one behind.” The attendees included Presidents Luis Lacalle Pou (Uruguay), Gustavo Petro (Colombia), Luis Abinader (Dominican Republic), Gabriel Boric Font (Chile), Dina Boluarte (Peru), and Guillermo Lasso (Ecuador), and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among others.

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