President Donald Trump, never one to speak softly, has tried to use big-stick diplomacy to force a trade showdown with China, but his bravado and hard-edged rhetoric has made it more challenging for the U.S. to check Chinese economic influence in its own backyard.

Trump has chosen to skip the Summit of the Americas, a two-day gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders that kicks off in Lima, Peru, on Friday, leaving it up to Vice President Mike Pence to journey south to use the forum as a platform to emphasize that the U.S. remains the best trading partner for nations in the region.

Pence faces significant challenges in peddling that message to Latin American leaders, however, particularly because the United States’ leverage in the region is not what it once was but also because many Latin American nations stand to gain from a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, at least in the short run.

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