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Event recap

On December 9, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, in partnership with Baker McKenzie, hosted the virtual public event “The Incoming US Administration and the Future of Supply Chains in the Americas.” The discussion sought to identify ways in which the United States and its regional allies can address the disruptions caused to global supply chains as a result of COVID-19, and identify opportunities to advance greater trade resilience and integration in the future The event also marked the launch of the Spotlight publication “The 2020 US Elections and the Future of Supply Chains in the Americas,” that tackle five key questions on the future of supply chains in the Americas. This report explores how the incoming US administration and the Western Hemisphere can capitalize on opportunities to modernize supply chains and bolster resilience.

In his opening remarks, Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, outlined the immense pressure supply chains are experiencing due to COVID-19, which has affected numerous industries across the globe. Marczak emphasized how regional partnerships can strengthen supply chain resilience, which are critical for the economic recovery of the region.

Kicking off the first panel discussion, Shawn Donnan, senior reporter and writer at Bloomberg News, posed a question on how the 46th US administration can position itself to forge a comprehensive economic integration plan. Maurice Bellan, managing partner, Washington, DC office, and member of Global Dispute Resolution and North America Litigation and Government Enforcement Steering Committee at Baker McKenzie, observed that “the Biden-Harris administration will need to restore confidence in its institutions and create multijurisdictional dialogue to ensure transregional trade, especially with regard to open and equitable vaccine distribution.” Bellan noted that Biden’s previous relationship as a liaison to Latin America will be beneficial to increasing the trust and confidence needed.

Jennifer Trock, partner and chair of the Global Aviation Group and North America International Commercial Practice Group at Baker McKenzie added that prioritizing sustainability goals is critical to rebuilding more nimble and reliable supply chains, especially as companies become more and more motivated by ESG benchmarks. “The increased focus on digitization, the use of [artificial intelligence], and drone technology to increase efficiencies will require companies to also address social and environmental responsibilities,” said Trock, explaining why sustainability and supply chains go hand in hand.

The second discussion of the event, moderated by Roberta Braga, deputy director for programs and outreach at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, delved deeper into the industry and country perspective of different experts regarding the future of supply chains in the Americas. When asked about how regional partnerships, such as USMCA, can be enforced to drive the competitive edge of the region, Juan Carlos Baker, CEO & founding partner of Ansley Consultores and former undersecretary of foreign trade of Mexico, mentioned that US domestic investment reverberates in the form of economic activity throughout the region. He illustrated that nations with existing agreements with the United States should pay particular attention to economic activity and step up their commitments to foreign trade.

Lisa Schroeter, global director of trade and investment policy at the Dow Chemical Company, raised the point that partnerships, especially public-private ones, are critical to support an integrated policy agenda. “There are ample opportunities to enhance trade facilitation and streamline the efficiency of supply chains, and, through innovation, build more sustainable communities,” Schroeter stated. Shunko Rojas, co-founder and partner at Quipu Advisors and former undersecretary for international trade of Argentina, agreed that public-private collaboration is crucial to modernizing supply chains as well. Rojas highlighted that greater investment in digital connectivity and infrastructure; common regulatory standards that enable the deployment of technology and innovation; incorporation of new technologies; integration of financial institutions in the adoption of technologies; and inclusion of disadvantaged groups; are key considerations to enhance supply chain resilience in the Americas.

Omar Vargas, global head of government affairs at 3M, stressed the importance of long-term preparation to avoid supply limitations when demand spikes occur, as was the case in the onset of the pandemic. Vargas also added that national stockpile programs are important, in addition to regulatory flexibility and enhanced national laws that allow the flow of goods across borders in times of need – a major challenge faced this year when more than eighty nations imposed export restrictions on personal protective equipment. Schroeter further emphasized the benefits of regulatory cooperation to ensuring an efficient operating environment for companies.

As the conversation concluded, Braga asked the panelists to share their thoughts on how the incoming new US administration, in collaboration with the private sector, can prepare supply chains in the Western Hemisphere to withstand major shocks, such as COVID-19, in the future. Juan Carlos Baker underscored that government and companies must invest in preparation and planning, fully aware that this situation could repeat itself. Shunko Rojas highlighted the opportunity for US and regional political leaders to build a constructive and common agenda to discuss guiding principles and formulate incentives to build stronger, more modern regional supply chains. Rojas referenced the transatlantic agenda recently proposed by the EU to Biden as an example that can be integrated with the hemispheric agenda. Omar Vargas encouraged the Biden-Harris administration to establish a multilateral platform where trade agreements can be discussed and established. Lastly, Schroeter commented on the opportunity for the administration to prioritize an environmental agenda, which she is confident will drive the sustainability of supply chains.

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Event description

Following an historic presidential election that took place amid a global pandemic, the incoming Biden administration will be charged with navigating the largest economy in the hemisphere out of a multi-pronged crisis.

With supply chains across the Americas highly impacted by the destabilizing effects of 2020, how can the United States and its partners and allies in the Americas work together to advance trade integration in the Western Hemisphere? How can the region modernize supply chains and bolster resilience against future disruptions or shocks? And what lessons learned from 2020 can the public and private sectors take into 2021 and beyond?

Join the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and Baker McKenzie on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST, for a public, virtual discussion that will explore a new vision for the future of supply chains in the Americas.

The public event will also mark the launch of our latest Spotlight publication: The 2020 US Elections and the Future of Supply Chains in the America


Maurice Bellan
Managing Partner, Washington, DC;
Member, North America Litigation and Government Enforcement Steering Committees
Baker McKenzie LLP

Jennifer Trock
Partner; Chair, North America International Commercial Practice Group and Global Aviation Group
Baker McKenzie LLP

Juan Carlos Baker
CEO & Founding Partner, Ansley Consultores
Former Undersecretary of Foreign Trade

Lisa Schroeter
Global Director
Trade and Investment Policy

The Dow Chemical Company

Shunko Rojas
Former Under Secretary for International Trade

Omar Vargas
Global Head of Government Affairs

Shawn Donnan
Senior Reporter and Writer
Bloomberg News

Jason Marczak
Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
Atlantic Council

Roberta Braga
Deputy Director, Programs and Outreach, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
Atlantic Council

In partnership with

El Centro para América Latina Adrienne Arsht amplía la comprensión de las transformaciones regionales y propone soluciones constructivas para informar como los sectores públicos y privados pueden promover la prosperidad en el hemisferio.