PANAMA CITY, Panama, April 13 (UPI) -- Stronger ties in the regional energy sector may help with economic development in the Western Hemisphere, U.S. and Canadian leaders said.
Regional dynamics were upended during the Summit of the Americas that concluded during the weekend in Panama City, Panama. Senior delegates from all 35 countries in the region took part in the summit billed as an opportunity to advance mutual interests in areas ranging from education to energy.
The region hosts some of the largest oil producers in the world, from Venezuela, a leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Countries, to the United States and Canada.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in a weekend address that energy costs for Central American economies were impeding national development.
"To the extent that we can create a single regional energy market, then the costs of production, of transmission, distribution of energy becomes cheaper for all the countries involved, and you get certain economies of scale," he said.
A March report from the World Bank said the impact of low oil prices has lifted economies in East and South Asia, but caused "a significant deterioration" in Latin America.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for his part, outlined a series of initiatives aimed at support extractive industries in the region, from a combined $20.5 million pledge for Peru to a four-year, $18.8 million commitment to help Colombia manage its natural resources effectively.
"Canada is actively working with its partners in the hemisphere to promote prosperity, democracy and security," Harper said.
Canada's economy relies heavily on oil and natural gas. Most of its oil is designated for a U.S. market already oversupplied with oil from shale basins.