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Americas Competitiveness Forum Update

The June forum will feature the participation of senior officials from numerous Western Hemisphere countries as well as site visits that highlight the four issues areas that are the focus of the two-day event.

by David Weems

Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez will host the Americas Competitiveness Forum on June 11-12, 2007, in Atlanta Georgia.

In addition to Secretary Gutierrez, two U.S. cabinet secretaries, Secretary of Treasury Henry M. Paulson and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; three Latin American vice presidents, Ana Vilma de Escobar of El Salvador, Jaime Morales Carazo of Nicaragua, and Kevin Casas Zamora of Costa Rica; and senior officials from 29 Western Hemisphere nations have confirmed their participation.

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Two other high-ranking officials, Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and Hernando de Soto, president of Peru’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy, are scheduled to also address forum attendees on the state of competitiveness in the Western Hemisphere.

On June 13, 2007, government participants are invited to attend a number of site visits in the Atlanta area. Each visit will be related to one of the four issue tracks of the forum: education, global supply-chain strategies, small business development, and innovation.

Education and Global Supply-Chain Strategies

One site visit will be to a pre–ribbon-cutting ceremony on the grounds of the Ron Clark Academy, which is located in an area of downtown Atlanta that is identified for revitalization. Guests will have the opportunity to tour this new, state-of-the-art facility, which blends creative teaching techniques with the latest innovations in technology.

Another site visit will highlight global supply-chain strategies at the air cargo handling facility of Delta Air Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Guests will enjoy an informal luncheon and a tour of the cargo facility. The airport is designated as a U.S. Customs Model Inland Port, where most international cargo can be cleared electronically within a four-hour window.

Small Business Development and Innovation

Government participants will also be invited to visit the AmericasMart, a case study in how the private sector, local government, and universities work together to encourage small business growth in Atlanta. The site visit will begin with a lunchtime discussion of the collaborative public–private and public–academic efforts under way in Atlanta to assist small businesses. After the luncheon, participants will be able to tour the AmericasMart, which is billed as the world’s largest wholesale marketplace.

A separate luncheon and tour of the InterfaceFLOR Commercial facility will highlight innovation. Participants will learn how InterfaceFLOR has become a company that addresses the needs of society and the environment by developing a system of industrial production that decreases costs and dramatically reduces the burdens placed on living systems.

David Weems is an international trade specialist with the International trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.


For More Information

More information about confirmed speakers and site visits, as well as a detailed agenda of the entire two-day forum, is available on the Americas Competitiveness Forum Web site. Registration can also be made through 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 also be directed to Alysia Wilson of the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit, tel.: (202) 482-5327;