Exposure of the weaknesses in the global supply chain is one of the unexpected side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kerri Hannan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
“We're facing a real crisis that the COVID pandemic shined a light on when we do not diversify or have these resilient supply chains. We're at risk of economic downturn, of not having PPE, of not having the ability to respond to the next pandemic or crisis that happens in the region.”
Speaking at the Summit of the Americas in mid-June, Deputy Assistant Secretary Hannan said it’s crucial that we find ways to strengthen supply chain rebalancing, or local manufacturing, and other ways to diversify and build resilient supply chains.
“It's also a rare economic opportunity that we see, to work with partners in the region to develop a supply chain … looking at the ways that goods and markets are able to move across the region, whether it's through looking at ports, looking at travel routes, it's all a part of this larger effort in the region to diversify our supply chains.”
“These are all opportunities for economic growth,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Hannan.
Indeed, the theme of this year’s Summit of the Americas is “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future.” This “means that everyone-- women, marginalized populations, small and medium enterprises, the informal economy have access to markets, to economy, to funding.”
This means expanding access to the digital economy throughout Latin America, a top priority of the Summit.
It also means empowering women, because when women succeed, all of society benefits. So, for example, Vice President Kamala Harris introduced at the Summit “In Her Hands,” an initiative “which is aiming to bring women into the economy,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Hannan.
“This commitment and recognition that raising up women, especially in Central America, is going to have an impact on the entire region.”
“This is the most inclusive Summit we've ever had. The halls are filled with women. Marginalized groups,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Hannan. “And they're meeting leaders and government representatives that are there to have those conversations, to hear what they need to figure out, how to deliver on the desires of the civil society to see their lives improve.”
“We're going to see a transformative decade.”