June 16, 2022

Assistant Secretary Castillo Talks Cooperation, Advancement at Summit of the Americas IX

Last week, the United States hosted the Organization of American States’(OAS) ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, for the first time since 1994. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo was a senior member joining the U.S. Department of Commerce delegation to the historic summit. While there, President Biden announced the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, a historic new agreement to drive the hemisphere’s economic recovery and growth.

Strengthening Resilience, Growing Competitiveness

On June 7, Assistant Secretary Castillo delivered the keynote address at a Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce event where she outlined the ways the Biden Administration is working to strengthen U.S. economic resilience and global competitiveness. She also highlighted future challenges the administration is working to counter.

“We’re in a global competition to ramp up chip production and other countries aren’t waiting for us to catch up,” Assistant Secretary Castillo said. “China has already spent more than $150 billion subsidizing their domestic chip industry. We need to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act to catch up.”

Regional Cooperation

In remarks, Assistant Secretary Castillo noted the Western Hemisphere’s shared history, culture and geography means the successes of the region and the United States are connected. She pointed to EDA’s role leading the Americas Competitiveness Exchange for the United States, the premier economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurial network of the Americas, as a key element of Intra-American dialogue.

“As a permanent member of the ACE Committee, EDA is instrumental in engaging with communities around the world to build networks that enhance competitiveness in the Americas; promote sustainable and inclusive economic development; and increase trade and investment opportunities,” said Castillo.

Economic Sustainability & Empowerment


Asst. Sec. Castillo delivers the keynote address to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Asst. Sec. Castillo delivers the keynote address to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

On June 8, Manuel Orozco of the Inter-American Dialogue and Ángel Cárdenas of CAF - Development Bank of Latin America joined Assistant Secretary Castillo at the Mayor’s Summit for a panel discussion on social inclusion and creating economic opportunity.

The Assistant Secretary described EDA’s approach to economic development which is guided by the basic principle that efforts should be locally-driven. She also emphasized EDA’s focus on equity as a priority for investments.

Helping her parents run small businesses to support her family, Assistant Secretary Castillo noted her personal experiences “have given me a unique perspective and fuels my determination to create transformative change.”

EDA’s Revolving Loan Funds that support small businesses and American Rescue Plan programs that develop and train the workforce of today and get Americans back to work with in-demand skills training — like the Good Jobs Challenge and Build Back Better Regional Challenge — will enable this transformative change and build resilient regional economies and accelerate our economic recovery.

A Level Playing Field

Asst. Sec. Castillo at the Mayor's Summit at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

Asst. Sec. Castillo at the Mayor's Summit at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

Later in the week, Assistant Secretary Castillo, Lila Abed of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, and Claudia Lopez Hernandez, Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, participated in “Lessons of Leadership from Latina America,” a roundtable discussion that addressed barriers to Latina and underserved populations’ economic advancement and focused on the future of Latina economic and social advancement.

The Assistant Secretary stressed the need to ensure everyone is given a level playing field and a fair shot to succeed.

“I am honored to be working for a President who believes in the role of government to affect change and who is committed to ensuring that our nation's economy works for all,” said Castillo. “We are now asking state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations, whom we support, to demonstrate how their grant proposals might benefit traditionally underserved communities, including the Latina community,” she added.

For more information on the 2022 Summit of the Americas, visit the summit’s official website.