US companies are losing to Russia and China in the fight for lithium mining contracts in Latin America, The Hill writes on Tuesday, citing representatives of the mining industry and US officials.
According to the publication, Washington does not use diplomatic influence to support American companies in concluding contracts with local authorities to develop lithium deposits in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, which are considered the most suitable and one of the largest found in the world.
Lithium has many uses in industry, including the production of reusable batteries in electric vehicles, smartphones and computers.
According to US Congressman Raul Ruiz, the reason for Washington lagging behind Moscow and Beijing was the foreign policy of former US President Donald Trump, which led to the isolation of the United States.
„This (Trump’s foreign policy) was a national security mistake that weakened the US. Russia and China have gained an advantage in terms of their involvement and investment in infrastructure development,” Ruiz said.
At the same time, according to Otto Reich, the former assistant secretary of state under the George W. Bush administration, the level of activity of American diplomats is significantly lower than their competitors, in particular, Chinese representatives.
„Diplomats from China are active, visible, responsive and trained just like American officials once were,” Reich said.
As one example of the unsuccessful struggle for the deposit, the publication cites a tender by the Bolivian government to develop a new lithium deposit, in which, among others, the US company EnergyX participated. However, in June, the American applicant was disqualified from the tender for technical reasons, allegedly without objective grounds, leaving four Chinese companies, one Russian and another American.
According to EnergyX CEO and founder Teague Egan, the US is losing the race to invest in Latin America.
„The US is left behind the rest while China is investing billions, Korea is investing billions and Russia is seeking to invest billions,” he notes.
This situation, according to American diplomat Dan Foote, who until recently was President Joe Biden’s special envoy to Haiti, is a consequence of the US’s lack of attention to the states of Latin America.
“The best description of what has been going on for many years remains the policy of non-intervention. In Bolivia, the United States still formally does not have an ambassador since 2008, while Russia and China, at least, have them there,” said Foote.