Mr. Carlos de la Vega, President of the Argentine Chamber of Commerce,
Ambassador Kreckl, Under Secretary for Economic Relations,
Members of the Organizing Committee,
Colleagues from the OAS,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking the Argentine Chamber of Commerce, and his President, Mr. Carlos de la Vega for hosting this meeting.
I also would like to thank Mr. Ernesto Gutierrez, President and CEO of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 and all the members of the Organizing Committee of the Private Sector Forum, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Argentina for their very warm welcome.
Let me also, at the outset, congratulate the members of the Organizing Committee, for their initiative to convene a Private Sector Forum on November 3 in Buenos Aires in the context of the IV Summit of the Americas.
I take this opportunity also to congratulate the Government of Argentina with their inclusive approach in the preparations for the Summit in Mar del Plata.
We had a couple of days ago the meeting from experts on Science and Technology and they have submitted a paper with their ideas.
The civil society met yesterday and continues their debate on key elements for the Summit documents this morning and we look forward to their contribution.
And today we are discussing with the private sector of Argentina an important initiative to have a permanent engagement of the business community in this Summit process.
In the mean time Governments are continuing their discussions and negotiations for the Declaration of Mar del Plata and the Plan of Action. Here you see that all key stakeholders are actively engaged in the preparation of the single most important encounter this year.
In my view, this is a clear expression of modern governance, providing all actors –state and non-state- the opportunity to direct the development of their community or country.
I view the role of the private sector in achieving the objectives of peace, security and development as critical. You can make a valuable contribution to these objectives, simply because you have the means in terms of money, structure and expertise and you have the capacity to mobilize, but most important because you have need for a workforce which is educated, skilled, healthy and dedicated, that is your interest in this process.
But I believe that we have to look over the fence of own interests now, we have to think and act outside the box, you as a strong business community need to contribute to the social conditions for growth and prosperity, all of which are essential elements of the Summit process.
In my opinion the time is opportune for your initiative, especially in light of the global dynamics of shifting trading relations, the role of suppliers and consumers like China and India in the global marketplace, the response from traditional economic powers on these ambitions and the impact of these dynamics on the Western Hemisphere.
Add to this interesting global scene, the somewhat disturbing hemispheric trends and challenges regarding democratic governability, the strengthening and modernization of the State, following the democratization in the 80’s and 90’s, and the alarming levels of poverty in the Americas, then it is indeed time for action.
It is in this light that the Organization of American States is very much in support of the initiative to establish a Private Sector Network or Forum that has a permanent character. The OAS has facilitated trading regimes and trade negotiations for many years through our Office of Trade, Growth and Competitiveness. We will continue with the Organizing Committee, through our Department for Development and the Summits of Americas Secretariat the discussions about the most appropriate structure, taking into account the expertise of other inter-american institutions, like the Inter-American Development Bank and other specialized agencies. In light of the fact that the OAS is a Government driven organization it will also be necessary to consult with the member states.
In my view, to make it a successful endeavor, it is imperative that this initiative has a full hemispheric reach that means that all regions and sub-regions should be included in the consultative process. To make it a realistic proposition we need to be very clear and determined about the mandates and scope of this Private Sector Network or Forum.
In my opinion this initiative can contribute in many ways to enhance the process of integration in the Americas. For instance, it could promote the establishment of pan-american companies in several areas, like transportation, but also facilitate a corporate response on the impact of natural disasters.
In the OAS I see possibilities of collaboration with CITEL and with the Port Security Committee, among others.
I look forward to meeting you next week Thursday in Washington DC and to continue this collaboration.