Mr. Smith Goes to Latin America

Ways & Means Chair leads delegation


Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) led a delegation south of the border last week, starting in Mexico, where the Committee’s youngest Chairman in history and self-described “firebrand” had an opportunity to act statesmanlike.

"We appreciate President López Obrador meeting with our bipartisan delegation where we reaffirmed the importance of the longstanding partnership between our countries and its impact on American farmers and workers," Smith said. "U.S. crop producers and energy investors are relying on Mexico to honor its USMCA obligations and to treat U.S. biotech crops fairly… As America’s largest trading market, access to the Mexican consumer is vital for American family farmers, manufacturers, and energy producers."    

Mr. Smith did note that “"Recent comments about American elections are completely unacceptable and undermine our shared goals of promoting safety and encouraging peaceful trade between our nations." The Mexican President had threatened to encourage U.S. Latino voters to oppose the GOP if Republicans don’t stop their calls for military intervention. The Mexican President said “this initiative by the Republicans, in addition to being irresponsible, is an offense to the people of Mexico and shows a lack of respect for our independence and our sovereignty.”

Ecuador, the next stop for the delegation gave the chairman a more malleable host.  “I made sure to visit Ecuador on my first international trip as Ways and Means Committee Chairman because the U.S.-Ecuador relationship is a high priority,” said Mr. Smith. “ We must use every tool at our disposal, including trade, to counter China’s influence in Latin America, and I shared my concerns with President Lasso about Ecuador’s expanding trade ties with China.

“Additionally, Ecuador’s import licensing regime and variable tariffs make it very difficult for American farmers, including beef and pork producers, to export to Ecuador. There are opportunities to strengthen our relationship with Ecuador for the benefit of American workers, farmers, small businesses, and our national security.”    In January 2023, Ecuador and China announced that they had completed negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.

In Guyana, the delegation met with President Irfaan Ali and several other cabinet members, opposition members and officials from ExxonMobil.  Guyana’s offshore oil gas development is owned by a consortium led by ExxonMobil.   Affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. is the operator and holds a 45% interest. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30% and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Ltd.holds the remaining 25%.


In addition to Chairman Smith, the delegation included Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala), Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn), Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), Rep. Mike Carey (R-Ohio), and Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here