To promote small business growth in the Americas, Foreign Affairs Patti Londono signed Memorandum of Understanding to boost economic prosperity in the region.
In his opening statement for the Pathways to Prosperity Conference in Colombia, Mr. Burns says Colombia’s own pathway toward prosperity and peace is an inspiration to the world and a credit to your leadership.
Latin America’s record of democratic development and social advancement stands as a model for a world whose citizens are reaching for dignity and economic hope, Mr. Burns said.
“The success of the Americas is measured not just by the growth of its GDP, but by the number and strength of its middle classes, rights, freedoms and democratic institutions.” -Mr. Burns
Both countries have worked to build societies where the benefits of trade and investment are broadly felt, where rights and rules are respected.
Mr. Burns stresses that many in the Americas have already found their own Pathways to Prosperity, but many more can benefit from the dialogue and partnerships we are here to build and strengthen today.
“I am hopeful that, by sharing ideas, innovative business practices and social policies and lessons learned, every country can find ways to better serve our people.” -Mr. Burns
Local successes that affect several hundred can be leveraged into sustainable change for millions throughout the region, he added.
Mr. Burns congratulates Colombia for linking the Pathways Ministerial with the Americas Competitiveness Forum, or ACF.
This continues an important innovation made by the Dominican Republic last year, and one that will be carried forward by Panama in 2013, he stated.
Mr. Burns highlights two particular areas of interest to the United States.
“First, we should be focused on training and financing small-scale entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses and reach markets around the world.” -Mr. Burns
He notes that through Pathways, the US government hopes to build on the successful U.S. model of small business development centers to empower businessmen and women in Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico and across the region.
Last April, President Obama launched the Small Business Network of the Americas to link more than 2,000 small business development centers throughout the Western Hemisphere.
“And as we offer our own stories, we also know that innovation flows north, and we are eager to learn from your experiences.” -Mr. Burns
In addition, both countries should sustain their focus on women entrepreneurs, which has become a signature accomplishment of this forum.
Mr. Burns stresses that investing in women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises is one of the best ways to achieve our economic, financial and social goals.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative, launched by Secretary Clinton and her counterparts at the Summit earlier this year, uses public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation and improve women’s access to markets, Mr. Burns cited.
“This effort builds on the progress Pathways has made through the Pathways Access Initiative (PAI), providing training to women entrepreneurs through WeConnect International, and bringing U.S. businesses together with women-owned businesses in Peru.” -Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns says there is an old proverb, sometimes quoted in American politics, that says: “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with others.”
“We have already come a long way together.” -Mr. Burns
He adds that the conference is another reminder of how much further they can go, how much more they can accomplish together.
“Let us use this moment to redouble our efforts to build better societies and to leave behind, for our children, a better Hemisphere and a better world.” -Mr. Burns
The United States has underlined that it is benefiting from the economic and political rise of the Western Hemisphere.
US partnership with the Americas matters a great deal to the United States.
Secretary Clinton has described how harnessing the “power of proximity” between the United States and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada is among the most strategically significant tasks facing US foreign policy in the years ahead.
She stresses that the same is true for US neighbors, because the power of proximity runs in both directions.
Working together with its partners in the region, the US can begin to transform the Americas into a shared platform for global success.
Millions of households have joined the ranks of the middle class, which now stands at more than 275 million people which is almost half the region’s population and growing.
Grouped together, the hemisphere’s market of nearly a billion people has made it an energetic hub of trade and investment, Ms. Jacobson highlighted.
Approximately 42 percent of U.S. exports go to this hemisphere, more than any other region across the globe, she noted.
During the past three years, US exports of goods to the Americas have increased by over $200 billion to nearly $650 billion, she cited.
The trade between the US and the region support nearly four million U.S. jobs.
With the addition of Colombia and Panama last fall, the United States now has trade agreements with twelve countries in the hemisphere that run uninterrupted from the Arctic to Patagonia, she stressed.
Recently, Brazil has joined the U.S. to create the Open Government Partnership, a global initiative to improve government transparency and accountability.
Mexico’s smart diplomacy played a vital role in advancing climate change talks in Cancun, and it will again be on display when world leaders gather there for the G-20 summit to advance the global economic recovery.
In addition, Uruguay is a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, and Colombia is using its tenure on the UN Security Council to assert greater leadership on key international issues.
Earlier this year, President Obama announced a Broadband Partnership of the Americas to promote universal access to technologies that will improve the region’s competitiveness and foster social inclusion.
In addition, the United States has joined Colombia in launching “Connecting the Americas 2022,” which commits the leaders of the Western Hemisphere to achieve universal access to electricity over the next decade by enhancing electrical interconnection.
The United States pledges to work with its partners to help the Americas become a platform for shared prosperity and success.
In September 2008, the United States and 11 other countries in the Western Hemisphere launched an initiative designed to enhance trade and investment throughout the region.
The new initiative “Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas” is designed to expand the progress already achieved.
Each of the 11 countries either has an existing free-trade agreement with the United States or has one pending before the U.S. Congress.