2011 Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Ministerial Meeting
On October 5, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in the fourth Pathways Ministerial in the Dominican Republic. Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas links Western Hemisphere countries committed to democracy and open markets in an initiative to promote inclusive growth, prosperity, and social justice.
Pathways countries currently include Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States. Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago have observer status. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) are strategic Pathways partners.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson and Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, accompanied the Secretary to the ministerial.
Partnering to Expand Opportunities
Pathways is a policy-level dialogue where countries learn from one another’s experiences and collaborate to spread the benefits of economic growth more broadly to all of our citizens. Pathways countries recognize that the gains from trade and economic growth have not always been equitably shared and that the promise of economic and social opportunity remains elusive for too many people in this hemisphere. Pathways seeks to close this gap by encouraging public policies and public-private partnerships aimed at empowering small farmers, small businesses, women, indigenous communities, Afro-descendants, youth, and vulnerable groups to participate effectively in the global economy. Through shared leadership, Pathways partner countries are committed to deepening cooperation on the following four pillars:
- Empowering small businesses by building an enabling environment for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises;
- Facilitating trade by improving the systems, regulation, and infrastructure small firms need to trade more competitively across borders;
- Building a modern workforce by emphasizing education, training, and focus on entrepreneurship – key requirements for a modern workforce; and
- Developing responsible and sustainable business practices by improving environmental practices, protections, and cooperation.
Pathways events highlight best practices to expand economic opportunities and encourage their effective implementation. Countries chairing Pathways pillars committees organize activities throughout the year that advance the Ministerial Action Plan. Uruguay, as the chair country of Pillar III, recently hosted a Digital Opportunities Conference, with support from the United States Government and ECLAC. The conference convened Pathways partners, technology experts, and civil society leaders from around the Americas to share best practices, build relationships, and raise digital literacy to expand educational opportunities and build a modern workforce by promoting access to information and communication technologies.
This year, Peru and the United States, co-chairs of Pillar IV, hosted workshops on policies and mechanisms for the conservation of biodiversity in the context of trade and sustainable development, and on public participation in the management of protected areas in high-conflict zones. Honduras’ Pillar I event, expected in January 2012, will focus on financial inclusion. As co-chairs of the trade facilitation pillar, Costa Rica and Chile are working on a customs-related event next year, and Peru is also planning to host an environmental workshop with the United States.
ECLAC, a key institutional partner, compiled and published a new book on Pathways best practices that illustrates how sound, evidence-based government policies and public-private partnerships contribute to building prosperity for all sectors of society. The volume identifies country-level policies and projects, as well as regional programs that the United States and its partners can build on under the Pathways initiative.
To make real progress toward Pathway’s goals, U.S. Government agencies provide technical assistance in Pathways priority areas such as small business development, financial inclusion, infrastructure financing, women entrepreneurs, greening the supply chain, and improving environmental practices, including the following:
- The United States Government anticipates contributing $17.5 million in funds in Fiscal Year 2011 to develop new programs and promote economic growth throughout the region.
- We are also contributing $5 million over the next two years to a new, Inter-American Development Bank-managed “Crossroads” fund that supports infrastructure projects that foster regional integration.
- Treasury regional advisors will assist Central America countries to finance improvements in trade-related infrastructure and to promote greater financial inclusion;
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation helped Honduras become a leader in secured transactions reform within Latin America and the Caribbean;
- In February 2011, the United States launched the Pathways Access Initiative (PAI) in Peru to help connect U.S. businesses with women-owned businesses (WOBs), and also promotes women’s entrepreneurial development; and
- The United States will also launch a new initiative, Pathways to Cleaner Production, which will create a network of universities, governments, and industries in Pathways countries to promote environmentally-sound production processes.