#2024WCA: Panel—Strengthening the Business Case for the Americas

The panel discussed the challenges shaping a "real partnership” between the U.S. and Latin America, impacting stability, democracy, and economic growth.


  • Christopher Dodd, Special U.S. Presidential Advisor for the Americas 
  • Rebecca Lissner, Deputy Assistant to the President, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President 
  • José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean 
  • Arun Venkataraman, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General for the Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce 
  • Susan Segal, President & CEO, Council of the Americas

“It isn’t enough that you give every country a free-trade agreement,” said Special U.S. Presidential Advisor for the Americas Christopher Dodd. In a panel moderated by AS/COA's Susan Segal at the 54th Washington Conference on the Americas, Dodd spoke about the need to convince countries in the region to work jointly with the United States, and encouraged European and Asian involvement to keep moving forward with “a real partnership.” Dodd put emphasis in the importance of the Americas Act, a bipartisan legislation to boost regional integration. "You can't get bipartisanship in the Congress today, so we're showing some real progress,” he said.

What is the U.S. government doing to attend the various needs of countries in the region to create a stronger partnership? The White House's Rebecca Lissner shared that government is close to its goal spend $4 billion over four years in Central America, “which is a major achievement”, she said, detailing that a big part of that is oriented toward initiatives such as training on job development to women in the region. For his part, U.S. Commerce’s Arun Venkataraman said 43 percent of US exports are going to Latin America, and that the government is working with businesses across the region to motivate an even stronger economic partnership. 

ECLAC's José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs shared the need to link the economic growth of the Americas with political and democratic stability. “There is a concern about the deterioration of democracy...There is an increase in organized crime, which is becoming a big structural obstacle for growth. Democracies have to deliver growth, good jobs, and hope for people.”