What would a Romney victory mean for trade with Latin America?

Reuters

Pedestrians walk past the Metropolitan Cathderal in downtown Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 24, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • US economic crises and 2 wars distracted policymakers and undermined US leadership in Latin America in recent years.

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  • Mitt Romney must lead with a positive economic agenda in Latin America if he hopes to deliver increased jobs in the US.

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  • Promoting exports, investment & energy interdependence will go a long way in restoring US credibility in Latin America.

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In the last debate, Gov. Mitt Romney cited the startling fact that “Latin America’s economy is almost as big” as China’s – with the region’s $7.1 trillion GDP trailing the PRC’s only slightly.

Clearly, Latin America is on Romney’s mind.  Global trade – particularly with Latin America, he stresses – is the second plank in his five-point jobs program.  Along with Canada, Romney cites Mexico as a key partner in North American energy independence – another pillar of his economic recovery plan.  It is no surprise that the entrepreneur in Romney knows a good deal when he sees it.

U.S. economic and fiscal crises and two wars distracted policy makers in Washington and undermined U.S. leadership in the region in recent years. Romney’s plans for restoring fiscal sanity, jumpstarting economic growth, and promoting exports, investment, and energy interdependence will go a long way toward restoring U.S. credibility and engagement.

I have said in the past that Brazil’s president Lula da Silva, a man of the left, paid a mighty service by proving that market economics and fighting poverty are bound together.  As a prototypical capitalist, Romney can advance an agenda of economic empowerment through inclusive private sector growth.  Who better to initiate a dialogue with regional counterparts on a capital formation and private-public enterprise funds to incentivize innovation, technology-transfer, education and other building blocks of modern economies?  And what can we learn from each other on extending opportunity to engage all citizens in their nation’s future?

Romney has spoken consistently of security threats in the region, and he can be expected to craft a response to Venezuela’s alliance with Iran as well as the narco-trafficking threat in Central America and Mexico.  However, he must lead with a positive economic agenda in the region if he hopes to deliver on the promise of increased jobs here at home.

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