Media Center

Press Release


  February 9, 2005

Trade agreements are a very important vehicle for full cooperation in the Americas, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Enrique Iglesias asserted Tuesday, as he headlined the second monthly event in the Lecture Series of the Americas, launched last month by the Organization of American States. He added that “trade agreements can spur full cooperation in the economic, political, social and cultural areas,” citing the European experience as an example.

He argued that negotiated trade mechanisms, such as those with Europe, the United States, Canada and Asia, have all served as an important anchor for policy decisions as well as for macro-economic performance and open up more opportunities to expand such cooperation on an ongoing basis.

In his lecture entitled “The Americas: From Economic Integration to Full Cooperation,” Iglesias gave an overview of the evolution of integration and cooperation mechanisms in the Americas, explaining that expanded cooperation cannot succeed without a duly responsive domestic agenda—one that addresses the region’s social problem of poverty, income distribution, exclusion and unemployment as a matter of priority.

Iglesias stressed that any domestic agenda that postpones tackling these issues—as is the general case in Latin America and the Caribbean—would not be very beneficial. “The most effective approach to cooperation is to open up trade opportunities, market access and removing protectionist agricultural barriers,” he stated. Another important element of the domestic agenda he stressed involves preparation for effective negotiation, and making structural reform to handle liberalization, he suggested.

A former Foreign Minister of Uruguay, Mr. Iglesias underscored the importance of a serious approach to the question of solidarity among the countries as an effective strategy, saying this also entails acknowledging the vast differences among the countries.

Talking about the challenges to expanded regional cooperation, Iglesias mentioned the globalization of trade, the Chinese phenomenon—which offers a great destination for our raw materials, but challenges our production competitiveness—and the technological deficiencies in our hemisphere, among others. He made special reference to the need to put in place programs that improve higher level and technological education.

Participants in this second Lecture in the series included OAS Acting Secretary General Luigi R. Einaudi, who chaired the session and moderated a discussion that followed Iglesias’ presentation; OAS Permanent Council Chairman Ambassador Manuel María Cáceres del Paraguay; Peru’s Ambassador to the OAS Alberto Borea, who introduced Mr. Iglesias; and José Antonio Chang, President of Peru’s San Martín de Porres University, co-sponsors of the program.

Those participating in the panel discussion that followed the keynote lecture were Inés Bustillo, Director of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Richard Webb, President of San Martín de Porres University’s Economic Research Institute; and José Manuel Salazar, Head of the OAS Office of Trade, Growth and Competitiveness. Irene Klinger, Director of the OAS Department of Communications and External Relations and Coordinator of the Lecture Series of the Americas program.

The monthly Lecture Series of the Americas continues with other internationally-renowned personalities sharing their perspectives on top hemispheric agenda issues: President of the International Criminal Court, Philippe Kirsch (March 31) and 1992 Nobel Literature Prize Laureate Derek Walcott of Saint Lucia (April 12).

Reference: E-022/05