Thursday, April 05, 2018

U.S. vs. China in Latin America

Reuters has a story about the Trump administration's unhappiness with greater Latin American attention to China. Here's the key quote:

The U.S. is forcing countries in the region to choose between the U.S. and China,” said Margaret Myers, director of the Latin America and the World program at the Inter-American Dialogue. “It’s putting Latin American countries in a very challenging position while at the same time not offering a particularly attractive policy.”

The article itself actually doesn't provide much evidence of this "forcing to choose" hypothesis. That doesn't mean it isn't happening because there is a lot going on privately. But I would need more to be convinced that the Trump administration is putting pressure on Latin America. There is also the problem of greatly reduced leverage. What can Trump threaten a Latin American country with? Central America receives a lot of aid, but the Trump administration has been systematically dismantling U.S. leverage in the region.

The irony here is that U.S. policy toward China is having the direct effect of pushing Latin America and China together. As China slaps retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports like soy, Latin America is right there to fill the gap. The more the United States enacts protectionist policies, the more Latin American countries will seek to trade with China. It's really that simple.


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