Japan, United States, and Cooperation with the New Latin America

Private sector, former-government, and academic experts discussed opportunities for companies to engage with Latin American governments.


  • Barbara Kotschwar, Executive Director, Visa Economic Empowerment Institute, Visa U.S.A. Inc.
  • Erick Langer, Professor of Latin American History, and former Director of the Center for Latin American Studies, Georgetown University
  • Amparo Mercader, Tax Partner, Transfer Pricing, PwC US
  • Shohei Tada, Deputy Director General, Latin America, Japan International Cooperation Agency
  • Earl Anthony Wayne, Distinguished Diplomat in Residence, School of International Service, American University, and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Argentina
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (moderator)

“Compared to other regions like Africa and the Middle East, the private sector in Latin America is mature and many companies are ready to engage in social business in the region,” said Shohei Tada, Deputy Director General for Latin America at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in a Council of the Americas discussion on areas of cooperation where governments can partner with the private sector to reduce inequality, increase economic development, and strengthen democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Tada’s remarks focused on how JICA, with private sector cooperation, provides technical and financial cooperation to stimulate development in the region. Erick Langer, a professor of Latin American history at Georgetown University, cited Japan as a great partner for governments in the region. He said, “Japan is the Asian power that understands Latin America, thus can aid the region's societies in much more productive and sophisticated ways.” He referenced Japanese investment strategies and democratic values as positives for the country's engagement with the region.

Governments in Latin America and the Caribbean have the potential to benefit from nearshoring or friendshoring. “Mexico is well-positioned to benefit from nearshoring as a key partner in USMCA,” said Amparo Mercader, Tax Partner at PwC US. Supply chains are still a concern for many companies coming out of the pandemic, and opportunities exist for Latin America to gain investment by some manufacturing and production moving closer to markets in North America. The region also stands to gain by partnering with the private sector in the areas of financial inclusion and digital transformation. The region has made progress in these areas but needs to do more to avoid stagnation. “Learn from the mistakes of the 1980s and avoid protectionism, in this case digital protectionism,” said Barbara Kotschwar, executive director at the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute. Kotschwar acknowledged that the region has become a champion of fintechs. Another bright spot is Latin America’s green energy potential. “Boards of companies are now looking to see if countries are making greener energy investments,” said Earl Anthony Wayne, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico and Argentina. He said it is an important factor in how successful Mexico will be in attracting more of its potential new investment. Private sector engagement with countries in the region has the potential to create opportunities for economic growth.