Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Western Hemisphere Leaders Gather in Los Angeles for Summit of the Americas

Summit of the Americas Logo

Leaders from the Western Hemisphere, with a few notable absences, gathered in Los Angeles last week for the Ninth Summit of the Americas.

The June 6–10 gathering enabled attendees to discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional levels to address continuing and new challenges facing the Americas.

In addition to the ministerial meeting, three stakeholder forums were held: the CEO Summit, Civil Society Forum, and Young Americas Forum.

Attendance

Twenty-three heads of state attended the Ninth Summit. Some controversy surrounded the Summit as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador opted not to attend the events as a result of the White House not inviting Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to participate.

Following Mexico’s lead, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala also opted not to participate.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro decided at the last minute to attend the events, where he met with President Joe Biden for the first time.

The theme of the Ninth Summit of the Americas was “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for our hemisphere.

As many as 10,000 participants — including support staff, security, media and businesspersons — were expected to attend the events in Los Angeles. Many official and informal events, bilateral meetings, and media events organized by the U.S. government and private organizations were held.

Multiple Agendas

At the Summit of the Americas, President Biden announced a “new and ambitious economic agenda” called the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.

The new partnership, which notably does not include any new trade agreements, will aim to mobilize new investment in the region, fortify supply chains, promote decarbonization and biodiversity, facilitate inclusive trade and update the “social contract” between governments and their people.

California Governor Gavin Newsom attended the events along with a delegation of state officials. He touted the diversity of not only the city of Los Angeles but the state of California.

Governor Newsom also met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce a new partnership with Canada to advance climate action.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the 4th annual CEO Summit of the Americas for the private sector in partnership with the U.S. Department of State.

The aim of the CEO Summit was to “leverage the power of the private sector” to bring together diverse business leaders — including those from small and medium-sized enterprises — to drive innovative and practical solutions for a “brighter future across the Americas.”

History of Summit

The Summit of the Americas, originally scheduled for 2021 and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is held every three years. The Summit is the only gathering that brings together all the leaders from the countries of North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.

The 2022 Summit was the first time the meeting was held in the United States since the inaugural summit in Miami in 1994. The most recent Summit of the Americas was held in Lima, Peru in 2018.

History of U.S. Involvement

In 1994, President Bill Clinton brought together 34 democratically elected leaders in Miami for the first Summit of the Americas. President Clinton was unequivocal about the summit’s mission. He called on leaders from across the region to open new markets and to create new free trade zones, to strengthen the movement toward democracy, and to improve the quality of life for all our people.

Clinton said, “If we’re successful, the summit will lead to more jobs, opportunity and prosperity for our children and for generations to come.”

President Donald Trump was unable to attend the 2018 Summit of the Americas in Lima as planned as he had to tend to other international matters. Vice President Mike Pence attended in Trump’s place.

The theme of the 2018 summit was “Democratic Governance against Corruption.” Leaders vowed to confront systemic corruption at a time when graft scandals plague many of the governments that make up the Americas.

Sixteen nations gathered at the 2018 summit issued a statement on the sidelines of the event calling on Venezuela to hold free and transparent elections as well as allow international aid. Vice President Pence gave remarks at the summit.

President Biden announced the host city of the Ninth Summit in January 2022 with the goal of underscoring the United States’ deep and historical commitment to the people of the Western Hemisphere and realizing the Build Back Better World (B3W) Initiative.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling
Susanne T. Stirling, vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California.

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