Donald Trump failed to attend the first day of the Summit of the Americas in Peru Friday. This gathering of the leaders of the various countries in the area was marked by the absence of the US president. He was too busy involved with the Russian situation and the attack on Syria.
Summit of the Americas – Is it Important?
This is the first time in the 24-year history of this gathering that the incumbent US president did not attend the Summit of the Americas. Mike Pence, the current US vice president, took his place. By failing to attend, Trump missed a golden opportunity to make an attempt to reduce the influence of China in the area. Why is this, and what is the nature of China’s influence in the American continents?
First, China has been rapidly increasing its investment in Latin America for some time. This was an opportunity for President Trump to tackle them on the matter. In the 13 years from 2003 to 2016, China increased its investment in this part of the world by over $110 million. The majority of this came in the four year period 2012 to 2016.
US and the Far East and Russia Focus
The US and President Trump has been focusing more on the Far East and Russia. Meantime, China has been taking this opportunity to expand its influence in Central and South America. The US has been paying little attention to the activity of China. A fair amount of Chinese cash has been used to help the region expand its technology and its transportation systems. The energy situation in the region has also been assisted by Chinese money.
While this may all be very useful to the Latin American economies, the US may suffer. American businesses operating in Latin America are likely to come across rapidly increasing competition from well-funded competition. In fact, the situation in Central and South America has reached a stage where a trade war with China is a definite possibility.
Chinese Import Tariffs Announced Last Week
China announced addition tariffs on 106 US products last week. Donald Trump has asked the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to think about placing more tariffs on Chinese goods to the tune of $100 billion. Lighthizer is also said to have been instructed to consider an attempt to rejoin the TPP. This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Trump left shortly after assuming power.
Failing to attend the first day of the Summit of the Americas will do nothing to persuade that body of countries that he is being genuine in his desire to restitute the TPP. The Latin American countries involved will regard this failure for Trump to appear as a serious insult to them. It will achieve nothing but increase the tension between the USA and the other states, particularly Mexico and Brazil.
Negotiations With Russia Need Experienced Heads
It seems as though President Trump is unable to handle more than one situation at a time. The Syria incident has led to issues between the US and Russia. It will require some serious experienced diplomacy to calm the waters. Trump would better to focus on the Summit of the Americas. He should leave negotiations with Russia with those more experienced in that type of negotiation.
Otherwise, the Middle East situation may escalate uncontrollably along with the issues with Mexico and other Central/South American countries. This is a time for experienced intervention, and not for the inexperienced ranting now expected from President Trump.