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OAS Hosted Debate of Latin American Entrepreneurs on the Role of the Private Sector in Hemispheric Trade Relations

  June 12, 2014

The Organization of American States (OAS) today hosted at its headquarters in Washington, DC the conference of the Latin American Business Council (CEAL, for its initials in Spanish), in which politicians, experts and business representatives from across the region discussed the role of the private sector in forging trade relations between the countries of the Hemisphere.

The meeting was attended by the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís; the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza; the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin; the President of the United States chapter of CEAL, Roberto Zamora; the President of CEAL International, Samuel Urrutia; and other political and business figures in the region.

In the first discussion panel, entitled "The political situation in Latin America and its impact on trade relations with the United States," Congressman and Chair of the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee of the U.S. Congress, Lee Terry, said that relations between his country and the countries of Latin America are "strong and beneficial" and that "we need to work to continue to strengthen our relationships to keep on a pathway of prosperity for all in the Americas." Meanwhile, Florida Congresswoman and former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said the best way to create prosperity and provide more opportunities in the region is "through open markets and free trade."

In the lecture "The Future of Energy in the United States and Latin America," the President of Mosbacher Energy Company, Robert Mosbacher Jr., said that "the production and distribution of energy has an important impact on poverty reduction" in the world. The U.S. businessman also added that "there is now great potential to share technology, information and best practices with universities and governments in the hemisphere" on energy issues to spur growth in the region.

In discussing "Transformative Philanthropy," Felipe Medina, Chair of the Board of the "Give to Colombia" Foundation, analyzed the new trends in philanthropy issues in the hemisphere. He said that currently companies have passed from charity philanthropy toward strategic philanthropy for business. He added that systemic change in the countries "can only be achieved through partnerships with the public and private sectors and the civil society" of the region.

In the panel "Suggestions on Economic Innovation in Latin America and how to Solve Disputes with the United States," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Western Hemisphere, Walter Bastian, recounted the initiatives that the U.S. government, with the support of the OAS, has undertaken to exchange information and best practices on innovation with countries in Central America, Mexico, and Colombia, among others. He added that to enhance the growth of innovation in developing countries "it is important to consider the relationship of local politicians, businesses and universities."

CEAL is an organization that includes the most important private entrepreneurs in Latin America, created 24 years ago to promote its members participation in the current exchange and cooperation tendencies, in every aspect in which private companies can contribute to the economic progress of their countries. The meeting of CEAL will be held until tomorrow, Friday June 13 in Washington, DC.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-252/14