(NAFB) – A group of 12 lawmakers recently penned a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative about the growing influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Latin America and Caribbean trade and economic development.

Arkansas Republican Representative Rick Crawford announced the effort Wednesday. In a letter to Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the lawmakers asked for immediate attention to the issue. Crawford says China has now surpassed the United States and is the largest non-continental trading partner for 54 percent of South America. The lawmakers say the recent increase of engagement in the Western Hemisphere is a great cause for concern, given China’s publicized strategy of becoming a world superpower and dominating the economic stage.

The lawmakers jointly write, “Before long, China will be significantly positioned to completely dominate Western Hemisphere economics,” adding, “We believe that it is of the highest priority for the U.S. to keep its relationships strong with our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.”