Microsoft and Mastercard adhere to VP Harris’ strategy for Central America

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks after taking the ceremonial oath to Kristen Clarke as Deputy Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, United States, May 25, 2021. REUTERS / Yuri Gripas

Twelve companies and groups, including Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Mastercard (MA.N) and Nestlé (NESN.S) Nespresso, will pledge to invest in Central America on Thursday – a victory for Vice President Kamala Harris as she ‘it aims to reduce migration from the region to the United States.

President Joe Biden has tasked Harris with leading US efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Since then, Harris has taken a series of steps to improve conditions and reduce migration to the region. Read more

Harris, who met with officials from those companies and groups on Thursday, said economic opportunities in the region can be boosted through partnerships with the private sector.

“For us as a administration, the United States government, to maximize the potential of our work, it has to be done through collaboration, through public-private partnerships,” Harris told reporters at the start of the report. the meeting.

The meeting brought together executives from yogurt maker Chobani, the Nespresso unit of food giant Nestlé (NESN.S), financial firms Bancolombia and Davivienda as well as language learning website Duolingo.

Commitments made by the companies include Microsoft’s agreement to expand Internet access to up to three million people in the region by July 2022 and Nespresso’s plans to start purchasing some of its coffee at Salvador and Honduras with a minimum regional investment of $ 150 million by 2025, a White House official said.

Chobani has agreed to bring his incubator program for local entrepreneurs to Guatemala, while Mastercard will aim to bring five million people in the region who currently lack banking services in the financial system and donate one million micro and small businesses access to electronic banking, the official said. .

The US Vice President’s efforts to boost regional economic growth will focus on six areas.

These include expanding affordable internet access, tackling food shortages by boosting agricultural productivity and supporting regional efforts to tackle climate change and make the transition to clean energy.

It will also aim to expand professional training programs and improve access to public health.

In April, Harris unveiled an additional $ 310 million in U.S. aid to Central America. She is scheduled to visit Guatemala and Mexico on June 7 and 8 – her first trip abroad as vice president. Read more

U.S. officials see corruption as a major contributor to the region’s migrant exodus, along with gang violence and natural disasters, issues that present barriers for businesses investing in the region.

Some Central American leaders recently rebuffed the Biden administration’s anti-corruption strategy, which included the publication of a list calling 17 regional politicians corrupt. Read more

During his trip to Costa Rica next week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to use meetings with his Central American and Mexican counterparts gathered there to address issues of corruption, governance and Rule of law, said Julie Chung, acting deputy secretary of state. for Western Hemisphere business.

“These are some of the issues that explain why people leave their homes in the first place,” Chung told reporters in a briefing ahead of Blinken’s trip on June 1 and 2. “They don’t trust their governments.”

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