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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Fact Sheet: The U.S. Economic Relationship with the Western Hemisphere

In Tampa, Florida today President Obama will underscore the interconnectedness of the U.S. economic and commercial relationship with Latin America.  Tampa has a long history of trade with Latin America: over 40 percent of total exports from the Port of Tampa are destined for countries throughout Latin America. 

As strengthened, market-based economic policies continue to lift millions of people in the region out of poverty and into the middle class, the Obama Administration is moving decisively to seize opportunities for U.S. firms.  The President reaffirms U.S. commitment to work with our partners in the region to further reduce the gap between developing and developed economies in the hemisphere, and promote the prosperity of all peoples. 

The United States and Western Hemisphere region enjoy extensive economic linkages, rich cultural people-to-people connections, and a shared belief in inclusive growth and broad-based opportunity.  Over decades of collaboration and partnership, the United States and the Western Hemisphere have built one of the most active trading relationships in the world, strong cooperation on cutting edge energy security, and a network of connections among our countries and people that allow the efficient movement of  knowledge, ideas and technology.

Policies that Promote Economic Growth and Job Creation at Home and Abroad

Through the National Export Initiative, the Obama Administration is partnering with U.S. businesses to promote American-made goods and services in the hemisphere through trade advocacy and export promotion efforts; increase access to credit, especially for small and medium-sized businesses; remove barriers to the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad; robustly enforce trade rules; and pursue policies at the global level to promote strong, sustainable, and balanced growth.   

Passage of the Colombia and Panama trade agreements and the resolution of the U.S.-Mexico trucking dispute underscore the President’s commitment to creating new opportunities for U.S. exporters, and support a rules-based trade.

Intensifying trade and investment ties are spurring demand for greater physical integration of our region.  Over the last year the United States joined Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Spain to create a groundbreaking donor trust fund at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) called the Crossroads Fund to incentivize countries to pursue investment in cross-border transport and logistics integration.

Our Relationship with the Western Hemisphere by the Numbers:

  • The Western Hemisphere is the destination for approximately 42 percent of U.S. exports, more than any other region across the globe. 
  • Since 2009, U.S.goods exports to the Western Hemisphere increased by over $200 billion, or 46%, to nearly $650 billion, supporting nearly 4 million U.S. jobs in 2011.
  • U.S. exports to the Western Hemisphere grew by more than 17 percent between 2010 and 2011, surpassing growth in exports to every part of the world, except Africa. 
  • The United States has free trade agreements with twelve Western Hemisphere countries, more than with any other region in the world. 
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement created the largest free trade area in the world, linking 457 million people producing $18 trillion worth of goods and services. 
  • Canada and Mexico each buy more goods from the United States than China; Canada buys more than the European Union.  In 2011, U.S. two-way trade with Canada and Mexico reached $1.06 trillion.
  • The United States accounted for approximately one-third of all foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into Latin America and the Caribbean over the last decade, and remains the largest individual source of foreign investment in the region. 
  • U.S. FDI in Canada is above $300 billion, and accounts for half of all Canada’s FDI.  The United States also currently has Open Skies agreements with 17 countries, vastly expanding international passenger and cargo flights to and from the United States. 

Building Vibrant Communities

At the same time, the United States is working actively with countries in the region to advance policies that promote economic diversification, encourage workforce formalization, and foster higher productivity.  The Americas Competitiveness Forum and the Pathways to Prosperity initiative provide structures for such a hemispheric dialogue where governments, private sector leaders, and academia are able to collaborate to address challenges to broad-based prosperity, and to identify opportunities that empower small businesses, facilitate trade, eliminate barriers for women entrepreneurs, and promote sustainable practices and environmental cooperation.

The Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development articulates a new model of development cooperation and underpins long-term commitment by the United States to promote security, strengthen democracy, and support broad-based economic growth in the region.

The work of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as efforts under the Open Government Partnership initiative and the Partnership for Growth are part of this new engagement, where countries work together and jointly shared the responsibility for results.

The Feed the Future initiative is designed to improve the food security of the poorest communities in the region.  The Feed the Future strategy in Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty and forge long-term solutions to chronic food insecurity and under-nutrition.  Feed the Future assisted 12,375 small-scale Guatemalan producers in the production and marketing of horticulture, coffee products, timber and non-timber forest products, and sustainable tourism services contributing to $17.8 million in sales and 5,651 jobs.  In Haiti, rice yields increased by 64 percent, corn yields by 338 percent, bean crops by 97 percent, and plantain outputs by 21 percent for beneficiary farmers participating in USG programs.

Family and Friend Connections

From a population of approximately 313 million, over 50 million people of Latin American and Caribbean heritage live in the United States, constituting the United States’ largest ethnic population. 

Our Connections with the Western Hemisphere by the Numbers:

  • Members of the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora sent $61 billion in remittances to their countries of origin in 2011.  About 75 percent of these remittances come from family and friends in the United States. 
  • Remittances represent a tool for poverty alleviation and a vehicle for improving the quality of life for millions of families, in addition to serving as a gateway to financial services for those with inadequate access to them.
  • In seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, remittances still represent more than ten percent of GDP.  To ensure greater transparency for remittance transfers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau adopted new consumer protections that will provide clarity, inform consumer decisions, and instill consumer confidence on both ends of a remittance transfer.