Small-scale diplomacy.

Author:Labanca, Alejandra
Position:TRADE AMERICAS
 
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U.S. policies to support small businesses in Latin America will help consolidate the country's ties to the region. An interview with Jose Fernandez, U S. assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.

After decades of enjoying a dominant position as the main trade partner of Latin America, the United States is working to further ties among small companies in an attempt to counteract Chinas aggressive push in the region.

The White House has recently announced the launch of the Small Business Network of the Americas, a program to promote and support Latin American small and medium-sized companies. The announcement was made in April in Tampa. The goal of the program, the White House said in a press release, is "to promote and support job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises and encourage greater trade among these businesses throughout the Western Hemisphere."

"If we can get more American businesses to partner with small and medium-sized Latin American companies, our foreign affairs benefit," said U.S. assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, Jose Fernandez, in a recent group interview with Latin Trade in Miami.

"This kind of trade is a good way to promote human ties (...) and to advance what we call 'soft power' in the region."

Fernandez, who spoke in Spanish, did not mention the small-business network specifically as a strategy to counteract Chinas advances in Latin America.

However, Washington clearly believes that promoting trade based on basic human interaction between Americans and Latin Americans could be a wonderful antidote to Chinas seduction campaign in the region. If Beijing's strategy has a weakness, it is the enormous cultural gap with the region. Latin America and the U.S. have common cultural cues that are lacking with China.

As a result, President Barack Obama has thrown all the weight of his...

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