He new head of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Mauricio Claver-Carone, an American promoted by President Donald Trump to a position that has always been in the hands of Latin Americans, seeks to fulfill “the dream of Pan-Americanism” in the face of China’s advance in the region.
« China will never supplant the relationship between the countries of the Americas »This lawyer, born in Miami 45 years ago, the son of a Spaniard and a Cuban, with experience in the White House, the IMF and the Treasury, and known for his criticism of Cuba and Venezuela, told ..
Here is a summary of the talk:
– Did the Trump administration seek the IDB presidency to counteract Chinese influence in Latin America?
The United States launched this candidacy in order to help in the economic recovery from the pandemic and to ensure that the region does not suffer another lost decade. That is the reason. The president understands, I think better than his predecessors, the importance of the neighborhood. Although you have a vision of your country first, the natural extension of that is the American continent first.
– Was China’s entry to the IDB a mistake in 2008?
No, it was a mistake that the United States did not pay enough attention to the IDB. China plays an important role in international trade, but it is a country far from the Americas and completely controlled by a state. So what we are looking for is to fulfill the dream of Pan-Americanism, which has existed since before China was an economic power. China will never supplant the relationship between the countries of the Americas, but it will fill existing gaps. And competitively that is valid! We cannot be angry with China for that, but with ourselves for having left the void.
– The IDB lends annually about 13,000 million dollars to the region. Will the Bank’s presence in the region increase?
Of course. First, increasing capital. The goal is that this capitalization be voted on at the next IDB Assembly, in March in Barranquilla. Second, by mobilizing more resources from the private sector. Currently, for every dollar that IDB Invest lends, it mobilizes 40 cents, I would like it to be four. And the pandemic gives us a great opportunity because companies want to return to the Americas and ensure proximity in the supply chains. And third, making the platforms of each country in the international financial institutions are joint, something that I already discussed with David Malpass (the president of the World Bank) and Kristalina Georgieva (the managing director of the International Monetary Fund).
His candidacy generated a lot of resistance.
Quite the opposite. There is more consensus than in the past: in 2005, the first time that (outgoing president) Luis Alberto Moreno aspired to the position, he won 56% of the shareholders’ vote and had the support of 20 of the 28 countries in the region. I got 67% and 23% support. This election has received a lot of attention because of my American nationality. No country criticized what I proposed.
– The vote is secret, but according to the Argentine Foreign Ministry, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago abstained. Were they looking to curb Trump’s influence?
I don’t think it was the intention, nor has it been expressed to me. The countries that abstained in the region did so because they considered it a tradition for the IDB to be chaired by someone from the region. I spoke with the presidents Alberto Fernández (from Argentina), Sebastián Piñera (from Chile), Carlos Alvarado (from Costa Rica), with the Foreign Minister of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard. They were very positive conversations. I told them that we are going to carry out a unifying management. And the fact that the only point of contention was my nationality is great, because it is the easiest thing to leave behind.
– You said you were willing to help Argentina to renegotiate its debt with the IMF. Did Fernández ask you?
He didn’t ask me, I offered it to him. Because President Fernández will not be able to carry out his management until he can be unleashed from the inherited debts. He was able to successfully negotiate with private creditors and I have the best will to help adjust the IMF program, which was made in 2018 under very different circumstances. It will be a fairly intense negotiation, but for the entire region it is important that Argentina can close this chapter.
– If Trump loses reelection, can you be removed from the IDB?
Never in 70 years of international financial institutions has something like this happened. And I feel very confident that it will not happen this time either.
– How do you evaluate Moreno’s management after 15 years at the IDB?
We spoke yesterday, we had a very productive conversation. He called me to talk about the challenges ahead. Each IDB president has left a better bank than his predecessor and Luis Alberto has done it too. He has left a more modern bank, he has left an important legacy.
– Assumes on October 1 at a very hard time for the region: pandemic, recession, threat of natural disasters and social protests, Venezuelan crisis. What keeps you awake?
Everything! But in the short term, what most robs me of sleep are the small countries, in the Caribbean but also in Central America, which must respond to the pandemic by increasing public spending, but which already have limited fiscal space, economies based on tourism and other sectors. affected, and are exposed to natural disasters. I am very concerned that they have to think about their present knowing, because they have no choice, that they are limiting their future. And also because of their income they have less access to credit. So we are looking at how to create debt relief for them.