President Donald Trump will urge Latin American countries to accept the United States as their trading “partner of choice” instead of China in Peru next week, according to senior administration officials.
When attending the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Trump will reportedly harden his rhetoric against China, who his administration has repeatedly accused of using predatory loaning practices in Latin American countries.
“President Trump has been very clear … in terms of his economic policies that the Chinese economic aggression in the region has not been productive for the hemisphere and that the United States should remain the partner of choice for them,” an administration official said on a conference call with reporters.
As well as predatory trade practices, Chinese officials have also promised to “spread globalization” with a “greater push” to promote trade in the region. Critics argue that China will provide greater support to many of the region’s repressive authoritarian regimes.
Chinese state propaganda outlet Global Times has boasted of the country’s increased presence in the region, claiming that the “golden opportunity for Chinese start-ups may have arrived.”
“Things are looking good between China and Latin America. Trade between China and Latin America has multiplied 22 times since 2000, a stark contrast to Latin American trade with the US, which merely doubled in the same time period,” a recent editorial read.
“As competition for Chinese start-ups grows fiercer domestically, many firms are looking overseas for new opportunities,” it continues. “Latin America stands out in the global market as it wakes up to tech start-ups and is expected to become a battleground for global tech giants in the years to come.”
The official added that Trump will not raise his concerns with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but will instead focus on the importance of continental “shared values” that include defeating drug trafficking and embracing democracy.
One of the main issues at the summit will be the regional response to the current crisis in Venezuela, where the U.S. is currently weighing up additional economic sanctions against the Nicolás Maduro’s socialist dictatorship, presiding over the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in the country’s history.
On Tuesday, Peru’s new foreign minister Nestor Popolizio reaffirmed the government’s commitment to prevent a Venezuelan delegation from attending the summit, stating that recent fraudulent elections “negate even the slightest notion of democracy and represent an insurmountable impediment to taking part in the Summit of the Americas.”
However, Maduro has vowed to attend the summit come “rain, hail, or shine,” declaring that the “indignity of the president and ministers who created this mess they call the Lima Group will be enshrined in history.”
On Wednesday, Trump signed an official memorandum to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, claiming that “the security of the United States is imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.”
“I think the president is a very straight speaker. He speaks what’s on his mind,” the administration official added.