A delegation of US officials will visit Colombia, Ecuador and Panama this week in a “listening tour” intended to identify potential infrastructure development projects in the region.
Led by President Biden’s deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh, the trip will include meetings with Colombian president Ivan Duque, Ecuadorean president Guillermo Lasso, Panamanian officials including public works minister Rafael Sabonge, and representatives of the private sector and “traditionally marginalized groups,” officials said.
The tour is the first of several planned by the Group of Seven countries – led by the US – through the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative they announced earlier this year as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which now boasts projects in more than 100 countries.
While the participating countries have not yet announced how much capital they expect the program to allocate, US officials have said the program will operate with full transparency related to financial terms and fund projects that meet environmental and labour standards.
Commenting on the news, Andre Wheeler, a Splash columnist and close watcher of the BRI, said: “With several countries now challenging China’s claims that BRI had been built on mutual respect, strong people-to-people bonds and non-interference in national sovereignty, there is a window of opportunity for the B3W to make itself more relevant.”