WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is hoping to counter Chinese efforts to bolster its economic influence in the Americas during his inaugural trip to Latin America next week amid an escalating trade fight and his harsh rhetoric on immigration.
The White House said Thursday that Trump is set to attend the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, and will travel to Bogota, Colombia, to promote good governance and democracy in the Western Hemisphere. The trip will bring the president face to face with the targets of some of his fiercest ire and follows his announcement that he will direct the deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The deployment has sparked widespread outrage in Mexico, which had already been enraged by Trump's pledge to construct a border wall.
Trump is also set to face scrutiny over his recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum — though exporters to the U.S. who will be in attendance have been granted temporary waivers.
Administration officials said no news is expected at the summit on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement or any on new sanctions on the Venezuelan government. Trump will hold meetings with several regional partners, though the final roster was still being finalized. Trump will meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota.
Trump is not expected to hold a meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro, who will be attending the summit in one of his final acts before stepping down from office later this month.
As China has sought to make inroads in the region by funding infrastructure works and investing in businesses, the White House said Trump will argue that the U.S. should be the "partner of choice" for the region. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will also travel to Lima to participate in an associated summit for business leaders, the White House said.