On March 18, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose W. Fernandez led the U.S. delegation to the first High-Level Economic Dialogue with Guatemala to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s Root Cause Strategy and Vice President Harris’ Central America Program Forward initiative. President Arévalo led the Guatemalan government delegation together with Vice President Herrera. Guatemalan representatives from the following ministries were also present: Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Economic Affairs; Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food; Ministry of Communications, Infrastructure and Housing; Ministry of Labor; Ministry of Energy and Mines; Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; and the National Commission against Corruption.

The U.S. delegation also noted that the Vice President would continue to discuss our bilateral cooperation with President Arévalo at the White House on March 25.

In various thematic discussions, the American and Guatemalan counterparts underlined their shared interest in deepening the bilateral partnership to stimulate sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic development and accelerate the creation of good jobs that would benefit Guatemala and the region. The United States reaffirmed its cooperation with the Arévalo government and the Guatemalan people in expanding inclusive, equitable economic prosperity through good governance; increased investment, competition and infrastructure; supply chain resiliency; greater food security; and a more resilient energy sector.

These efforts support the prosperity of all Guatemalans and contribute to a more stable and prosperous region. What’s good for Guatemala is good for the United States. The advancement of the White House’s Root Cause Strategy and its Central America Forward Initiative emphasizes inclusive, equitable growth in marginalized populations to help those left behind fully benefit from Guatemala’s growth and development.

Integrity/probability units. In keeping with President Arévalo’s commitment to eliminate corruption, USAID intends to provide technical assistance to establish, expand and/or strengthen the integrity units of selected ministries and executive bodies. These units will address corruption internally while improving their efficiency and effectiveness, which will improve their ability to fulfill their obligations to the people. This support includes organizational and operational assessments to determine how corruption occurs, identify perpetrators and make recommendations to improve existing units, improve staff capacity and strengthen institutions.

Open government partnership. Consistent with President Arévalo’s efforts to improve transparency, the State Department and USAID intend to expand the Open Government Partnership. This includes capacity building for government and civil society groups, supporting procurement transparency to improve legal and operational processes, and supporting digitalization efforts across the executive branch and transparency initiatives that make data publicly available.

Building capacity for equitable growth. The Inter-American Foundation (IAF), which currently supports 34 Guatemalan organizations, announces new funding of $1.1 million – complemented by a co-investment from grantees totaling $2.2 million – to Capacity of four Guatemalan organizations to strengthen the local economy to develop growth. The organizations are led by and serve marginalized populations who are disproportionately affected by economic inequality: women, youth and indigenous peoples. The organizations will promote Indigenous youth leadership, constructive collaboration with local officials on community development priorities for lasting economic solutions, and community-based responses to promote economic inclusion critical to growth.

Investment promotion: competition, infrastructure and supply chains

Subway system. In line with President Arévalo’s vision to establish a subway system in Guatemala City to reduce congestion, improve mobility and control emissions, the State Department’s Transaction Advisory Fund (TAF) intends to provide $650,000 for the further development of a Guatemalan subway system. TAF support is intended to provide international expertise to provide engineering and design services for the construction of bridges and subways needed for the new subway line in Guatemala City.

Climate-resilient infrastructure. With $5 million, USAID will work to catalyze investments in climate-resilient infrastructure projects across the country. This initiative will improve the regulatory environment, boost investment, promote climate-adaptive practices and promote a model for sustainable infrastructure growth and economic development in the country. The initiative will provide technical assistance and capacity building activities to strengthen climate resilience and stimulate economic progress. This initiative connects government agencies with private sector stakeholders to improve the quality of infrastructure, promote economic growth and ensure resilience to climate change to ensure Guatemala’s future prosperity. The private sector has already committed to complement U.S. investments by supporting a revolving fund to finance feasibility studies.

Technical support in competition law. Guatemala is one of the few countries in Latin America without competition law. This slows down the growth of domestic companies and foreign direct investment. In response to a request from the Ministry of Economy and to advance President Arévalo’s vision of establishing Guatemala as a regional economic center, USAID intends to provide technical assistance in the drafting of a new competition law in Guatemala, including hiring a local consultant and providing expert analysis Federal Trade Commission. The United States stands ready to assist with other legislative priorities where we can provide technical assistance.

Technical support for investment promotion. In support of President Arévalo’s vision to improve infrastructure and investment in Guatemala, the Ministry of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program is entering into an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help improve the transparency, effectiveness, competition and sustainability of Guatemala’s public procurement systems for development , acquisition and management of goods, services and infrastructure.

In addition, USAID intends to provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Economy in restructuring the Investment Promotion Authority to increase the Guatemalan government’s ability to design and advance competitive and investment initiatives and bring Guatemala into line with the region.

Agriculture and food security

Deepening food security. Consistent with President Arévalo’s vision to ensure sustainable, inclusive development for communities most in need, the United States announced an expansion of the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) to the Western Hemisphere, starting with Guatemala, through a new partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), which builds on the U.S. government’s existing efforts in the region through the Feed the Future initiative.

The United States and IICA intend to work with Guatemalan stakeholders to develop a VACS strategy that builds more resilient agricultural systems by focusing on diverse, climate-adapted crops and healthy, fertile soils. The resulting VACS strategy will suggest areas where resources from across the public and private sectors can be mobilized to make future investments that advance VACS goals in Guatemala.

Sustainable access to electricity. In line with President Arévalo’s commitment to connect all Guatemalan households to energy services, USAID’s $3.8 million aims to increase access to electricity, promote the productive use of electricity, and improve local and national capacity for energy transition. The activity will target priority rural areas, including the Western Highlands, Alta Verapaz and other selected areas.

Coalition for Climate Entrepreneurship Hub in Guatemala City. Over the next two years, the State Department intends to work with the PVBLIC Foundation, the Colombian startup accelerator Cleantech Hub and Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala City to jointly create more than 100 climate and sustainability-focused business plans, of which at least 30 will be selected – Potential startups from the hubs that will participate in a regional climate acceleration program and work with other partners to achieve at least four times the total value of the program through public grants.

The aim of the hubs is for 90 percent of participating startups to bring products to market or secure funding within a year and save at least 50,000 tons of CO2 per year across the program to drive sustainable economic growth in Central and South America. The hubs also expect to engage at least 450 students to advance academic commitment to a cleaner future and highlight representation of previously underserved climate entrepreneurial communities, including women and Indigenous peoples.

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