A competition law will boost investment in Guatemala, says U.S. officials

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

The U.S. country already invests about $1 billion in the country, as part of the development initiative promoted by Vice President Kamala Harris, says Kevin Sullivan.

The Deputy Undersecretary of the United States for South America and Regional Economic Policy, Kevin Sullivan, participated yesterday in the Business Future of the Americas (BFA), organized by the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), an event in which the latest trends in issues relevant to trade and investment in the region are announced.

The official was interviewed by Prensa Libre regarding his country’s plans for Guatemala after the change of government and this is what he replied:

From Washington D.C., how are you seeing Guatemala?

It’s a good time for Guatemala and also for our relationship. We were very committed so that President Bernardo Arévalo could assume his position, according to the will of the people of Guatemala, and we would like to accompany his administration by supporting what we can, as well as trying to help, particularly in terms of the economic reforms that are needed.

In the course of this semester, what perspective do they have of the new government?

We have worked very hand in hand with the new government, even with high-level visits and a dialogue focused on the economy, led by the Undersecretary of Economy, José Fernández, so we are monitoring the commitments and goals that were assumed.

Vice-President Kamala Harris’ initiative for the subregion is essential and we are working towards investments, private sector commitments and very harmonious collaboration with the Government.

What results could we expect in the next few months?

With the effort of all we have managed to raise potential investments of about $5 billion and $1 billion are already committed here and deployed. The idea is that these investments will help create jobs and for the country to be part of the new value chains that we are trying to develop at the regional level.

In the near future, what has been seen?

We hope that companies that are interested in investing will succeed in realizing these plans, working with the authorities here in Guatemala so that this is actually carried out. Of course, there will have to be a skilled and prepared workforce to seize those opportunities.

We are also waiting for the authorities of the Executive of Congress to continue to move forward with reforms that can make Guatemala a more attractive investment destination.

Do we speak of legal certainty?

There are two issues: first, appropriate microeconomic reforms must be sought to boost investment; and also the leaders of U.S. companies. The U.S., and other countries, are looking for the rule of law to be quite strong, that there is transparency in justice and that they can invest with confidence.

Is there U.S. trust toward Guatemala?

Clearly there is confidence, because investments are coming, but it can always be improved. Our efforts are in that regard.

What are progressing on in what bills or bills?

For example, in competition law, among other projects that could enhance investment, especially foreign direct ones, which can bring new technologies and integration of value chains.

On matters of cooperation, what are the plans?

We are collaborating very closely here in Guatemala, including the Minister of Economy, Gabriela García, with a focus on training because in the workforce the necessary experience is needed to take advantage of the new value chains and attract investments. We are helping Guatemala bring and develop smarter and more competitive agriculture to take advantage of those markets, so we have a variety of cooperation.

In programs to prevent irregular migration?

We have a strategy to go to the primary causes, which cause the desire to emigrate irregularly. We believe that improving both citizen security, and creating job opportunities, can create incentives for young people in Guatemala to want to seek their destination here in their country, with their families, in their culture, rather than risking unsafe trips to the United States. U.S.

From your point of view, how can trade relations between the two countries be intensified?

With Guatemala we already participate in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which provides us with a comprehensive framework of free trade and with rules that help us build the confidence we mentioned above.

We now have in the region a new initiative, known as APEP (State of the Alliance for Economic Prosperity in the Americas) that brings together 12 countries including the United States. And in the region to Costa Rica and Panama. It is a group that has high standards and is looking to encourage investment, modernization and building new value chains.

Eventually, the initiative has an open architecture; Guatemala could aspire to integrate, if it wants, to this initiative, which on the basis of the FTAs that are held with many member countries, seeks to go further to promote cutting-edge investments in different sectors.

International event

Antigua Guatemala is the headquarters of the Bussines Future of the Americas (BFA), which brings together the representatives of the U.S. Chambers of Commerce, and the Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Yesterday, the United States Ambassador to Guatemala Tobin Bradley participated in the inaugural part, and the members of the board of directors of the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham); the Minister of Economy, Gabriela García; the Minister of Communications, Infrastructure and Housing, Felix Alvarado; and then Vice President Karin Herrera joined.

The ambassador reiterated in his message the importance of strengthening relations with Guatemala, of seeking prosperity and maintaining dialogue with the different actors, as well as the opportunities for more investments. He also recalled the recent announcement by the Walmart chain in Guatemala to develop an investment program for the next five years, for about $700 million.

Subsequently, conferences and panels were held by experts and representatives of several local and foreign companies, addressing various issues related to productivity and investment. The activity ends on Wednesday.

This article has been translated after first appearing in Prensa Libre