Remarks at The Americas Competitiveness Forum Opening Reception

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Jaragua Hotel
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
October 5, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) – especially with President Fernandez, a longtime friend of mine and my husband’s, and also Margarita, thank you as well for being here.

I want to compliment Andres Van der Horst, the director of the National Competitiveness Council, and the excellent work that has been done to reach the Santo Domingo Consensus, a very important step in trying to agree upon the path forward that is needed to enhance competitiveness in the Americas. And I’m pleased to be here with Secretary General Insulza, with whom we work very closely.

I want to just make three points. First, the United States strongly supports the growth and prosperity that is becoming a very important part of the future of Latin America. We have watched it and we are proud to be a part of it because nations across the Americas have achieved impressive economic growth during the last decade.

But secondly, we know we have so much more to do which is why all of you are here today. We have to create the conditions that will allow millions of our fellow citizens to break free from poverty, to participate more fully in our economies, and to build better lives for their children. I really think that the emphasis that we are seeing from having both the Pathways to Prosperity ministerial here in Santo Domingo today and the Americas Competitiveness Forum demonstrates clearly how committed we all are. We know that it is key to creating jobs, expanding opportunity, encouraging an environment in which global growth and regional growth can take place.

But third, what you have chosen to concentrate on, namely education, is one of the foundational steps that must be taken. Educating our citizens to compete is the theme of this year’s forum. And I know that you understand, because you are here, that unless we improve the education and training of our workforces, we will not grow to the full extent of our potential. So focusing on education is absolutely essential.

Now for many years, my husband was governor of one of our poorest states in the United States, Arkansas. He first became governor in 1979 and then he served with the exception of two years until he went to Washington as president. And during that time, I was honored to help him emphasize the importance of education, and he was absolutely committed to improving the educational opportunities for the people of Arkansas. And we had to convince the business leaders that that was a necessary condition for competitiveness. So a consensus was created, and the consensus was similar to what you have adopted here: You cannot improve the economy, become more competitive if you do not improve education.

So I thank you for that, and I’m delighted that we have several representatives from the State Department and the Department of Commerce, from our government and the Obama Administration here for this important forum. We look forward to continuing to work with you to actually see the Santo Domingo Consensus realized. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/T53-05