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Monday June 11, 2007

Facilitator Script – Morning Plenary Session


Prepared remarks of Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service

Buenos dias. Bom Dia. Good Morning. Bon jour. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the inaugural 2007 Americas Competitiveness Forum.

My name is Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commercial and I am proud to lead the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and on behalf of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, it is my privilege to welcome you here to Atlanta.

We are so proud and extremely pleased to have so many distinguished guests from the Hemisphere present at the Americas Competitiveness Forum. These include the Vice President of El Salvador, Mrs. Ana Vilma de Escobar, and Mr. Jaime Morales Carazo, the Vice President of Nicaragua. And, thank you to all the distinguished high level officials from thirty countries of the Hemisphere represented at the Forum.

I would like to take a moment to recognize our co-organizer CIFAL Atlanta, Mr.Alex Mejia and his team, and our partners, the City of Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of State, who were instrumental in the organization of this Forum.

Also, thank you to all of the ACF Sponsors including UPS, Nortel, Delta, Coca-Cola, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Merck, and the many other generous organizations listed in our program materials.

During the next two days, take the opportunity to visit the Pavilion of the Americas located in Marquis Ballroom A. There you will find information on several organizations and countries from the region and you will have an opportunity to meet with ACF participants.

Also, we would like to let you know that Nortel is webcasting all of the Plenary sessions over the next two days and will be receiving questions from internet viewers. Thank you Nortel.

Today, we have many distinguished speakers who will share their perspectives on competitiveness in the Hemisphere. You will find all of the Plenary speakers’ bios in the Program notebook you have on hand.

Lastly, before we begin the official program, this may be the hardest task you have to do today… please turn off your cell phone, and your blackberries, and your pagers. Thank you.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Mrs. Shirley Franklin. Mayor Franklin’s leadership of this City is the epitome of the best competitiveness practices anywhere. Her vision made this Forum in Atlanta a reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin.