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Two-Day Forum to Focus on Economic Growth and Regional Cooperation in the Americas

Four areas of discussion have been identified as the focus of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, scheduled for June 11 and 12, 2007, in Atlanta, Georgia.

by David Weems

Progress continues in organizing the topics that will be the focus of this June’s inaugural Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta, Georgia. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez will host the forum on June 11–12, 2007. The forum will provide a venue for government ministers, leaders from the private sector, academics, and representatives of non-governmental organizations from the Western Hemisphere’s democratic countries to explore cutting-edge ideas and to highlight best practices for sparking innovation, economic growth, and regional cooperation in competitiveness.

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Amercias Competitiveness Forum identifier

Outgrowth of Argentina Summit

The Americas Competitiveness Forum is an outgrowth of the November 2005 Summit of the Americas, which was held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. At that meeting, President George W. Bush recommended that a high-level meeting be convened to focus on improving the region’s competitiveness.

Growth in Latin America has been robust during the past several years. In 2004, foreign direct investment in Latin America was more than $54 billion, a 46 percent increase over 2003. The International Monetary Fund reports that Latin American economies grew, on average, 4.3 percent in 2005, fueled by demand for commodities.

Need for Entrepreneurial Growth

The World Bank’s 2007 Doing Business database found that most Latin American countries have been much slower than the rest of the emerging world to implement business-friendly reforms. Such reforms foster competitiveness, which is a driving factor in economic growth. Similarly, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2006–2007concluded that of the 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries ranked in the report, only 9 had improved their competitiveness ranking from the previous year. Both the database and the report highlighted steps that governments could take to unleash the full potential of entrepreneurs.

Enhancing the competitiveness of the region—thereby spurring job growth and increasing prosperity and security—is one of the top priorities for the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, which, with support from other U.S. government agencies, is organizing the forum.

Four Main Topics of Discussion

Four topics have been identified for the forum: (1) sparking and sustaining innovation, (2) creating solutions in education and workforce development, (3) designing successful global supply-chain strategies, and (4) fostering small business development and growth.

The innovation track will examine the growth in innovative service industries and trends in alternative energy technology, biosciences research, and national innovation management. The education and workforce development track will examine how education and training relate to workforce development. It will also look at the crucial role those combined factors play in strengthening competitiveness. The global supply-chain strategies track will explore how supply-chain efficiency has become a key factor in creating a competitive advantage in the global economy. Finally, the small business development and growth track will discuss ways to facilitate business creation and to foster the entrepreneurial spirit through trade financing, effective branding and marketing, and reducing regulatory barriers and obstacles to starting and operating a business.

David Weems is an international trade specialist in the Market Access and Compliance unit of the International Trade Administration.


For More information

Information on the Americas Competitiveness Forum is available on the forum’s Web site. Registration is now available on the Web site. Information on the forum agenda, speakers, and panelists will be updated on a regular basis, and questions about the forum can be submitted through the Web site. Questions regarding the Americas Competitiveness Forum can be directed to Alysia Wilson of ITA’s Market Access and Compliance unit, tel.: (202) 482-5327; e-mail: