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Fostering Economic Growth

Fostering Inclusive Economic Growth

The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs advances the President’s trade and economic agenda in the region by fostering growth and benefiting American workers through better trade policies. We do this because stronger regional economies grounded in transparency and free from corruption create business opportunities for U.S. and local firms, and create employment opportunities at home for citizens in our partner countries. The United States is a top trading partner for nearly two-thirds of the Western Hemisphere’s 34 countries. We trade twice as much with the Western Hemisphere as we do with China. We strive to help develop stronger economies, better-educated workers, stronger civil societies and democratic governance, and foster entrepreneurship and innovation.

Fair and Reciprocal Trade Agreements

Negotiating new and better trade deals is vital to America’s future. The United States has reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)  is a mutually beneficial win for North American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. One of the principal objectives in the renegotiation of NAFTA was to discourage outsourcing by companies seeking to take advantage of unfairly depressed wages and poor labor standards in Mexico and create opportunities for American workers. The USMCA includes the strongest, most advanced, and most comprehensive labor provisions of any trade agreement. Pending approval by the U.S. Congress, the agreement will create more balanced, reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs for Americans and grows the North American economy. The United States has trade agreements in force with ten other countries in the hemisphere, more than anywhere else in the world — including Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. Learn more about trade in the hemisphere at the U.S. Trade Representative sites .

Expanding and Enriching Study in the Americas

100,000 Strong in the Americas is our signature education diplomacy initiative that expands and enriches education in the hemisphere. The model builds partnerships between higher-education institutions in the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean. It develops a hemisphere-wide network of engaged, innovative, and like-minded citizens who enhance mutual security, stimulate economic prosperity, and strengthen collaboration and transparency between governments, business, and academia. Learn more about the 100K Strong in the Americas initiative.

U.S. Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean

The Caribbean region is the United States’ “third border,” characterized by common interests and societal ties that yield daily, tangible benefits for U.S. citizens. The United States is the primary trading partner for the Caribbean, representing a vibrant economic partnership that in 2016 saw a $4.6 billion trade surplus for the United States, 14 million U.S. tourist visits, and 11,042 Caribbean students studying in the United States. Learn more about the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in the Caribbean.


Safer, more efficient, and cheaper energy allows countries’ economies to grow. When our neighbors’ and partners’ economies grow, it opens up more opportunities for trade and opportunities for U.S. jobs and businesses. We support other countries’ energy goals, in partnership with multilateral institutions and companies to: (a) expand access to cleaner, cost-effective, reliable energy; (b) help governments attract private sector investment in clean energy to spur energy security and economic competitiveness through the creation of transparent, efficient, rules-based energy markets; (c) regionally integrate electricity and natural gas; and (d) create and expand opportunities for U.S. exports of natural gas and energy technologies.

Key U.S. and Regional energy initiatives include:

Summit of the Americas

Since the United States launched the Summit of the Americas, this meeting of the region’s leaders has become the highest-level process for promoting regional cooperation and addressing the most pressing issues in the Americas. Each Summit focuses on a critical area of cooperation that all countries in the Americas can support, and allows the region as a whole to work together on such issues as increasing economic competitiveness, catalyzing development, enhancing access to energy and communication technology, strengthening regional security, countering trafficking, and promoting democracy and human rights. The United States will host the next Summit of the Americas in the second half of 2021.

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) & Entrepreneurship Programs

The U.S. government is empowering young business and social entrepreneurs throughout the Americas with the training, tools, networks, and resources they need to increase economic prosperity and foster business partnerships. Through the annual YLAI Professional Fellows Program, 280 young entrepreneurs collaborate with U.S. businesses during a four-week, individually tailored fellowship placement. In addition, the YLAI Network includes a hemisphere-wide online community of entrepreneurs and influencers across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada who are committed to fostering economic prosperity, transparency, and good governance.  Learn more about YLAI.

The Department of State empowers entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere through a range of programs.  Learn more about programs for entrepreneurs here [198 KB].

Social Inclusion and Access to Opportunity for All

Promoting social inclusion and access to opportunity for all are critical to democratic stability. Countries prosper when they harness the power of all of their citizens. Participation by all stakeholders, including governments, law enforcement, multilateral organizations, civil society, businesses, and academia, greatly increases the chances for a country to succeed. We work in partnership with other countries in and outside the region to promote human rights, social inclusion, inclusive security, and prosperity for all. Learn more about this work.

Presidential Permits for Border Crossings between the United States with Canada and Mexico

Presidential permits are needed for the construction, connection, operation, or maintenance, at the international boundaries of the United States of certain cross-border projects. The President has designated the Secretary of State, under Executive Order 13867 of April 10, 2019, to receive applications and advise the President whether issuance of a Presidential permit would serves the foreign policy interests of the United States. The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs receives permit applications for most facilities at the Canadian and Mexican borders. We are working with our neighbors and partners to create linkages and facilitate the lawful flow of goods and people between our countries. Learn more about how to apply for Presidential Permits for Border Crossings.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future