Obama pushes for mutually-beneficial trade with South America
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JEREMY HOBSON: Now let’s get to President Obama’s trip to Central and South America. He’s heading to El Salvador today.
Our regular Tuesday Analyst Juli Niemann is off. We’re joined instead by Shannon O’Neil. She’s a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who focuses on Latin America — and she joins us live from New York.
SHANNON O’NEIL: Good morning.
HOBSON: Good morning.
O’NEIL: So tell us what the U.S. wants to get out of this trip.
HOBSON: Well, Obama talked in his State of the Union speech about doubling exports in the next five years as a way out of the economic downturn in the United States. So exports-led growth. And Latin America is really a place to do this. It’s one of the regions least hit hard by the global economic downturn that we’ve seen. And many of these countries have picked up and are growing really rapidly in terms of GDP. It’s also plagued with an expanding, even an exploding middle class, so millions and millions of people in Latin America are coming out of poverty, and they’re ready consumers, either for U.S. goods, or for others.
O’NEIL: OK so we want exports. What do Latin American countries want?
HOBSON: You know, in Latin American countries some want specific things. for instance, Brazil, the first stop on the president’s trip — they want an end to exports or to tariffs on exports that they have such as ethanol or orange juice or cotton. And other countries want opening up of U.S. markets. That’s one issue. But more broadly really want Latin America wants is a recognition on the world stage. And they want consultation from the United States and others as a true partner. And we’re seeing more and more issues that require multi-national responses and solutions. And Latin America wants a seat at the table there, so when you think of economic crisis, or climate change, or even instability in the Middle East, these affect Latin America and their citizens. And they want to be at the table in multi-lateral bodies when the solutions are come up with, or when people are actually discussing how to address these issues in a multi-lateral ways.
O’NEIL: Shannon O’Neil from the council on foreign relations.
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