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EXCLUSIVE-White House to lure U.S. firms to Latam from Asia in nearshoring drive, senior adviser says

WASHINGTON/BUENOS AIRES, July 29 (Reuters) - The Trump administration is working on a new initiative that would use financial incentives to encourage U.S. firms to move production facilities out of Asia and into the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, a senior White House adviser said on Wednesday.

The project could bring $30 billion to $50 billion in U.S. investment back to the Americas, Mauricio Claver-Carone told Reuters in an interview, adding that infrastructure, energy and transportation could be the first potential areas of focus.

“We’re essentially creating a ‘Back to the Americas’ initiative,” he said. That would include both reshoring to bring some investment to the United States and moving some investment to Latin America and the Caribbean - or so-called ‘nearshoring’ - Claver-Carone said.

Claver-Carone is the U.S. candidate to be the next head of the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Latin America’s principal development finance institution. If he wins the election, slated for September, he would be the first U.S. candidate to occupy the role.

He said he had “overwhelming support” from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Trump’s top Latin America adviser, who has played a key role pushing for punitive measures against socialist-run Venezuela and Cuba, said 15 countries in the region had publicly supported him for the IDB job and six others had privately expressed their backing.

Claver-Carone also said the United States wants to “collaborate” with China to ensure its lending practices in the region are more transparent, and cited Ecuador as an example of a country that is saddled with “unfair, over-collateralized” debt to China.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington and Cassandra Garrison in Buenos Aires, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien