Harris’sLatam calltoaction


US vice president Kamala Harris announced a “call to action” for American and Latin American businesses and non-profits on May 27, asking for commitments on inclusive economic development in the so-called ‘Northern Triangle’ of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In a bid to “address the root

causes of migration” from the Northern Triangle into the US, the White House said in a statement that it will make significant contributions to “foster economic opportunity, strengthen governance, combat corruption and improve security”. However, it added, “supporting

the long-termdevelopment of the region, and in the Western Hemisphere more broadly, will require more than just the resources of the US government”. “The administration looks

forward to increased collaboration with private companies — US, foreign, and local in the Northern Triangle and Latin America more broadly — to build upon this ‘call to action’ in the months and years to come,” the statement continues. According to a model developed

by academics at the University of Texas at Austin, an estimated average 311,000 people left the Northern Triangle annually between 2014 and 2020, with the majority bound for the US. The collaboration between the

US government and the private sector will reportedly target six focus areas: reformagenda; digital and financial inclusion; food security and climate-smart agriculture; climate adaptation and clean energy; education and workforce development; and public health access. Arun Pillai-Essex, US lead

analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, says that such a move fromthe US government has revealed the inefficacy of direct aid.


General Motors bets $1bn on EV

The US automotive giant General Motors (GM) announced on April 29 that it was investing more than $1bn to expand a plant in Mexico for the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and GPS positioning systems. GMhas already started to upgrade

its existing plant in Ramos Arizpe, where production of its own electric vehicles will start from 2023. It will also produce batteries and electrical components for commercial use, starting with the manufacturing of EV powertrains this year. Francisco Garza, president and

Building better: Kamala Harris has called for help driving economic development in the Northern Triangle

“Marshalling the resources of

the federal government to encourage foreign investment is an acknowledgement that direct aid to regional governments and support for civil society alone has done little to improve baseline socio-economic conditions that continue to drive people north,” he says. The Covid-19 pandemic has

only exacerbated the economic plight of these three Central American countries, particularly Honduras and El Salvador, which fell 8% and 8.6% in terms of real gross domestic product growth, according to the IMF. But, Mr Pillai-Essex adds, the

eventual success of this move — which is part of a long-termstrategy to help foster the conditions for business investment — “hinges more on regional governments making necessary reforms to improve long- standing impediments to private sector growth”. The 12 companies and

organisations cited in the official statement are: Accion, Bancolombia, Chobani, Davivienda, Duolingo, The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Mastercard, Microsoft, Nespresso, Pro Mujer, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and the World Economic Forum.■ SETHO’FARRELL

chief executive ofGMMexico, said in a statement in April:“We are very proud to contribute to the realisation of GM’s vision of zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion, by contributing to the production of EVs.” He added thatGMhas operated in Mexico for more than 85 years. But not everyone was celebrating

success. North American labour union of automotive workers United AutoWorkers’s vice president Terry Dittes called the investment a “slap in the face”. “GMautomobiles made in Mexico

are sold in the US and should be made right here,employing American workers,” he said. “This is not the America any of us signed on for. Frankly, it is unseemly.”■ SETHO’FARRELL

Samsung’s sunny future

Korean conglomerate Samsung is looking at developing solar power plants worth $673m in Texas, US, in a bid to sell the electricity generated from December 2023, according to documents reviewed by Reuters. Construction of the solar plants

will begin in June 2022 and will bring about a combined capacity of roughly 700MW. A Samsung official told Reuters

that subsidiary Samsung Renewable Energy is “proceeding with approval procedures with the state”. The plants will be located in

Milam county, less than two hours’ drive fromAustin where Samsung Electronics has a chip factory.■ SETHO’FARRELL June/July 2021



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