Foreign Relations

JANUARY 3–6, 2019

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 1)

Introduction to the Region/Northern Triangle/
Historical Perspective

Charles Call, PhD

Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution
American University

The Forum heard expert reports on the political, social, and economic situations in the Northern Triangle, comprised of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras and discussed the implications for the States. Putting the size of the region into perspective, Dr. Call noted that Guatemala is the size of Tennessee, Honduras is similar to Georgia, and El Salvador is the size of Massachusetts.

Trade and the Economies of the Region

Matthew Rooney

Managing Director
Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

Mr. Rooney served as Counselor during development of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He reported that the Central America had the most skewed income distribution in the world, with those of European origin controlling the wealth and opportunities, to the exclusion of indigenous peoples. CAFTA worked to hasten and strengthen regional economic integration, industrial development, and opportunities to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Mr. Rooney described the successes and challenges of economic development in the region.

 

JANUARY 3–6, 2019

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 2)

Political Climate

Manuel Orozco, PhD

Director
Migration, Remittances and Development
Inter-American Dialogue

Dr. Orozco reported a trend of increasing state fragility and political instability in Central America since 2010. He drew a stark picture of the trends, causes, and scenarios that are creating this instability and the implications for US policy in the region. He identified factors contributing to State vulnerability including the erosion of legitimacy among political authorities, the weak rule of law enabling corruption and organized crime, and political party and elite fragmentation. These three problems cause tremendous distraction among elites in ways that precluded them from focusing on key policy priorities, such as economic development, Dr. Oroczo reported.

Transnational Criminal Organizations

Eric L. Olson

Consultant
Latin American Program
Mexico Institute
Wilson Center

Criminal activity in Central America has direct implications for US State Senate leaders, Mr. Olson pointed out. The region is a bridge, a key part of the transit path for illicit goods entering the US, which provides the best market for them. Mr. Olson noted that organized crime exists where the state is weak or where corruption allows collusion between State authorities and organized crime, which is rampant in the region.

Immigration & Migration

Andrew Selee

President
Migration Policy Institute

Migration from Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) now exceeds that from Mexico, and demographics also are changing. More families and minors trying to cross the border on migration routes through Mexico to Rio Grande Valley or to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California border areas.

 

Asia-US Relations—The Macro Picture

Satu Limaye, PhD

Director
East-West Center

The macro picture of Asia is currently a swirling and unpredictable center of change. Despite this, many issues also are unchanged from 25 years ago, according to Satu Limaye, Director of the East-West Center, including the challenges of managing alliances in the region, setting trade policies, and dealing with China’s emergence as a power. Mr. Limaye also outlined significant positive changes and opportunities that are part of the complexity of US relations with Asia. US geopolitical policy also has profound effects on regional stability, and Mr. Limaye explored the impacts of current US policies on the region’s stability.

 

China – Economics/Impending Trade Wars

Ira Kasoff

China and East Asia Foreign Policy
Former Deputy Assistant 
Secretary for Asia
US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration

China is the biggest competitive threat to the US and will soon surpass the US as the largest economy in the world, Dr. Kasoff reported. Its “Made in China 2025” initiative seeks to ensure Chinese domination of high-profit, high-technology industries. And, China is willing to employ unscrupulous business practices such as intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, and import/export controls to ensure success. In response to these tactics, the US imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. “We are in the early stages of what could become a full-on trade war,” Dr. Kasoff pointed out, and went on to examine possible scenarios in depth.

 

Japan

Sheila A. Smith, PhD

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Japan is the most important ally of the US in Asia. US trade with Japan totaled an estimated $270.7 billion in 2016, and Japan is currently the 4th largest goods trading partner for the US. This alliance is crucial to both nations' economic and political interests, Dr. Sheila Smith pointed out to the Forum. However, Japan faces challenges not just from emerging competition in the region but also from its own demographics as a rapidly aging society. Dr. Smith explored the economic and political impacts of these demographics changes as well as the rapidly evolving geopolitical environment in Asia on Japan and its relationship with the US.

 

South & North Korea

Satu LimayeDirector
East-West Center
  
Scott SnyderSenior Fellow for Korea Studies
Director of the Program on
U.S.-Korea Policy
Council on Foreign Relations
Philip YunExecutive Director
Chief Operating Officer
Ploughshares Fund North Korea
 
Alliances in the PacRim are shifting in response to military posturing, including nuclear threats, from North Korea. The US, for example, has installed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile systems in South Korea, while China has amassed troops on its border with North Korea. President Donald Trump met with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, in the first summit meeting between the countries’ leaders. Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was the key agenda item, although no concrete commitments were made. The Forum heard from three discussants, who offered first-hand knowledge of this complex situation, focusing on the need for consistency and reciprocity as diplomatic initiatives move forward.

CONTACT

Senate Presidents’ Forum

579 Broadway

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

 

Tel: 914-693-1818

Copyright © 2019 Senate Presidents' Forum. All rights reserved.

Foreign Relations

JANUARY 3–6, 2019

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 1)

Introduction to the Region/Northern Triangle/
Historical Perspective

Charles Call, PhD

Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution
American University

The Forum heard expert reports on the political, social, and economic situations in the Northern Triangle, comprised of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras and discussed the implications for the States. Putting the size of the region into perspective, Dr. Call noted that Guatemala is the size of Tennessee, Honduras is similar to Georgia, and El Salvador is the size of Massachusetts.

Trade and the Economies of the Region

Matthew Rooney

Managing Director
Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

Mr. Rooney served as Counselor during development of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He reported that the Central America had the most skewed income distribution in the world, with those of European origin controlling the wealth and opportunities, to the exclusion of indigenous peoples. CAFTA worked to hasten and strengthen regional economic integration, industrial development, and opportunities to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Mr. Rooney described the successes and challenges of economic development in the region.

 

JANUARY 3–6, 2019

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 2)

Political Climate

Manuel Orozco, PhD

Director
Migration, Remittances and Development
Inter-American Dialogue

Dr. Orozco reported a trend of increasing state fragility and political instability in Central America since 2010. He drew a stark picture of the trends, causes, and scenarios that are creating this instability and the implications for US policy in the region. He identified factors contributing to State vulnerability including the erosion of legitimacy among political authorities, the weak rule of law enabling corruption and organized crime, and political party and elite fragmentation. These three problems cause tremendous distraction among elites in ways that precluded them from focusing on key policy priorities, such as economic development, Dr. Oroczo reported.

Transnational Criminal Organizations

Eric L. Olson

Consultant
Latin American Program
Mexico Institute
Wilson Center

Criminal activity in Central America has direct implications for US State Senate leaders, Mr. Olson pointed out. The region is a bridge, a key part of the transit path for illicit goods entering the US, which provides the best market for them. Mr. Olson noted that organized crime exists where the state is weak or where corruption allows collusion between State authorities and organized crime, which is rampant in the region.

Immigration & Migration

Andrew Selee

President
Migration Policy Institute

Migration from Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) now exceeds that from Mexico, and demographics also are changing. More families and minors trying to cross the border on migration routes through Mexico to Rio Grande Valley or to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California border areas.

 

Asia-US Relations—The Macro Picture

Satu Limaye, PhD

Director
East-West Center

The macro picture of Asia is currently a swirling and unpredictable center of change. Despite this, many issues also are unchanged from 25 years ago, according to Satu Limaye, Director of the East-West Center, including the challenges of managing alliances in the region, setting trade policies, and dealing with China’s emergence as a power. Mr. Limaye also outlined significant positive changes and opportunities that are part of the complexity of US relations with Asia. US geopolitical policy also has profound effects on regional stability, and Mr. Limaye explored the impacts of current US policies on the region’s stability.

 

China – Economics/Impending Trade Wars

Ira Kasoff

China and East Asia Foreign Policy
Former Deputy Assistant 
Secretary for Asia
US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration

China is the biggest competitive threat to the US and will soon surpass the US as the largest economy in the world, Dr. Kasoff reported. Its “Made in China 2025” initiative seeks to ensure Chinese domination of high-profit, high-technology industries. And, China is willing to employ unscrupulous business practices such as intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, and import/export controls to ensure success. In response to these tactics, the US imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. “We are in the early stages of what could become a full-on trade war,” Dr. Kasoff pointed out, and went on to examine possible scenarios in depth.

 

Japan

Sheila A. Smith, PhD

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Japan is the most important ally of the US in Asia. US trade with Japan totaled an estimated $270.7 billion in 2016, and Japan is currently the 4th largest goods trading partner for the US. This alliance is crucial to both nations' economic and political interests, Dr. Sheila Smith pointed out to the Forum. However, Japan faces challenges not just from emerging competition in the region but also from its own demographics as a rapidly aging society. Dr. Smith explored the economic and political impacts of these demographics changes as well as the rapidly evolving geopolitical environment in Asia on Japan and its relationship with the US.

 

South & North Korea

Satu LimayeDirector
East-West Center
  
Scott SnyderFellow for Korea Studies
Director of the Program
on U.S.-Korea Policy
Council on
Foreign Relations
Philip YunExecutive Director
Chief Operating Officer
Ploughshares Fund
North Korea
 
Alliances in the PacRim are shifting in response to military posturing, including nuclear threats, from North Korea. The US, for example, has installed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile systems in South Korea, while China has amassed troops on its border with North Korea. President Donald Trump met with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, in the first summit meeting between the countries’ leaders. Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was the key agenda item, although no concrete commitments were made. The Forum heard from three discussants, who offered first-hand knowledge of this complex situation, focusing on the need for consistency and reciprocity as diplomatic initiatives move forward.

Foreign Relations

JANUARY 3–6, 2019

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 1)

Introduction to the Region/Northern Triangle/
Historical Perspective

Charles Call, PhD

Associate Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution
American University

The Forum heard expert reports on the political, social, and economic situations in the Northern Triangle, comprised of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras and discussed the implications for the States. Putting the size of the region into perspective, Dr. Call noted that Guatemala is the size of Tennessee, Honduras is similar to Georgia, and El Salvador is the size of Massachusetts.

Trade and the Economies of the Region

Matthew Rooney

Managing Director
Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

Mr. Rooney served as Counselor during development of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). He reported that the Central America had the most skewed income distribution in the world, with those of European origin controlling the wealth and opportunities, to the exclusion of indigenous peoples. CAFTA worked to hasten and strengthen regional economic integration, industrial development, and opportunities to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Mr. Rooney described the successes and challenges of economic development in the region.

 

JANUARY 3–6, 2019

Instability of Central America & the US Response (Part 2)

Political Climate

Manuel Orozco, PhD

Director
Migration, Remittances and Development
Inter-American Dialogue

Dr. Orozco reported a trend of increasing state fragility and political instability in Central America since 2010. He drew a stark picture of the trends, causes, and scenarios that are creating this instability and the implications for US policy in the region. He identified factors contributing to State vulnerability including the erosion of legitimacy among political authorities, the weak rule of law enabling corruption and organized crime, and political party and elite fragmentation. These three problems cause tremendous distraction among elites in ways that precluded them from focusing on key policy priorities, such as economic development, Dr. Oroczo reported.

Transnational Criminal Organizations

Eric L. Olson

Consultant
Latin American Program
Mexico Institute
Wilson Center

Criminal activity in Central America has direct implications for US State Senate leaders, Mr. Olson pointed out. The region is a bridge, a key part of the transit path for illicit goods entering the US, which provides the best market for them. Mr. Olson noted that organized crime exists where the state is weak or where corruption allows collusion between State authorities and organized crime, which is rampant in the region.

Immigration & Migration

Andrew Selee

President
Migration Policy Institute

Migration from Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala) now exceeds that from Mexico, and demographics also are changing. More families and minors trying to cross the border on migration routes through Mexico to Rio Grande Valley or to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California border areas.

 

Asia-US Relations—The Macro Picture

Satu Limaye, PhD

Director
East-West Center

The macro picture of Asia is currently a swirling and unpredictable center of change. Despite this, many issues also are unchanged from 25 years ago, according to Satu Limaye, Director of the East-West Center, including the challenges of managing alliances in the region, setting trade policies, and dealing with China’s emergence as a power. Mr. Limaye also outlined significant positive changes and opportunities that are part of the complexity of US relations with Asia. US geopolitical policy also has profound effects on regional stability, and Mr. Limaye explored the impacts of current US policies on the region’s stability.

 

China – Economics/Impending Trade Wars

Ira Kasoff

China and East Asia Foreign Policy
Former Deputy Assistant 
Secretary for Asia
US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration

China is the biggest competitive threat to the US and will soon surpass the US as the largest economy in the world, Dr. Kasoff reported. Its “Made in China 2025” initiative seeks to ensure Chinese domination of high-profit, high-technology industries. And, China is willing to employ unscrupulous business practices such as intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, and import/export controls to ensure success. In response to these tactics, the US imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. “We are in the early stages of what could become a full-on trade war,” Dr. Kasoff pointed out, and went on to examine possible scenarios in depth.

 

Japan

Sheila A. Smith, PhD

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Japan is the most important ally of the US in Asia. US trade with Japan totaled an estimated $270.7 billion in 2016, and Japan is currently the 4th largest goods trading partner for the US. This alliance is crucial to both nations' economic and political interests, Dr. Sheila Smith pointed out to the Forum. However, Japan faces challenges not just from emerging competition in the region but also from its own demographics as a rapidly aging society. Dr. Smith explored the economic and political impacts of these demographics changes as well as the rapidly evolving geopolitical environment in Asia on Japan and its relationship with the US.

 

South & North Korea

Satu LimayeDirector
East-West Center
  
Scott SnyderFellow Korea Studies
Director of Program on
U.S.-Korea Policy
Council on Foreign Relations
Philip YunExecutive Director
Chief Operating Officer
Ploughshares Fund North Korea
 
Alliances in the PacRim are shifting in response to military posturing, including nuclear threats, from North Korea. The US, for example, has installed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile systems in South Korea, while China has amassed troops on its border with North Korea. President Donald Trump met with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, in the first summit meeting between the countries’ leaders. Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was the key agenda item, although no concrete commitments were made. The Forum heard from three discussants, who offered first-hand knowledge of this complex situation, focusing on the need for consistency and reciprocity as diplomatic initiatives move forward.