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Trade, Diplomacy Focus of Presidential Trip to Latin America

Washington, DC
Friday, March 18, 2011

As President Obama prepares to leave tonight to visit to Latin America, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the importance of bolstering the partnership between the U.S. and its southern neighbors in a speech today at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

Calling it the “power of proximity,” Secretary Clinton noted that the U.S. currently exports about $160 billion to the region each year, which is three times as much than what is exported to China.

The U.S. also stands to take advantage of Latin America’s rapid economic development; the combined economies grew 6 percent last year, and present an opportunity to increase trade.

Brazil, currently the seventh largest economy in the world, is the first stop on the president’s trip. On his agenda is a meeting with the country's new president, Dilma Rousseff, as well as a group of Brazilian and U.S. business executives. In the following days, he will travel to Chile and El Salvador.

The president will be joined on the visit by First Lady Michelle Obama, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Updated: Friday, March 18, 2011 at 3:10pm (ET)

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