Earlier today, in remarks at the Plenary Session of the 6th Summit of the Americas, President Obama highlighted his efforts to engage countries of the region as equal partners to leverage connections throughout the hemisphere to improve the lives of people across the Americas. The President reaffirmed his commitment to work together to address the central challenges facing the Americas today and build upon the track record of accomplishment created by his sustained engagement with the region during the course of the past three years.
The United States and Western Hemisphere region enjoy extensive economic linkages, rich cultural people-to-people connections, and a shared belief in inclusive growth and broad-based opportunity.Over decades of collaboration and partnership, the United States and the Western Hemisphere have built one of the most active trading relationships in the world, strong cooperation on cutting edge energy security, and a network of connections among our countries and people that allow the efficient movement ofknowledge, ideas and technology.
To build on these linkages, the President underscored his commitment to a series of initiatives:
Prosperity and Opportunity
In March 2011, the President launched 100,000 Strong in the Americasto foster regional-wide prosperity by increasing educational exchanges throughout the hemisphere by assisting students find opportunities for foreign study and developing public-private partnerships to fund them.To achieve the 100,000 Strong goal, the State Department is implementing partnerships with foreign governments, universities, higher education associations, and the private sector.
The President also announced the Small Business Network of the Americas(SBNA) to highlight efforts to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as the engines of inclusive economic growth and job creation throughout the region. The SBNA will foster an interconnected network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the Western Hemisphere.The network will increase the ability of SMEs in the United States to export and strengthen international business-to-business connections among SMEs in the region.This network will also assist entrepreneurs in accessing critical financing that will facilitate job creation, business expansion, increased trade, and steady economic growth.
Recognizing that investing in women-owned and managed SMEs is one of the best ways to achieve simultaneous economic, financial, and social impact, the President launched the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas)initiative, a public-private partnership that addresses three key barriers to women starting and expanding SMEs: access to markets, financing, and capacity and skills-building.
The President proposed the creation of a Broadband Partnership of the Americasto bring together national governments, international donors, and private sector businesses from across the hemisphere to promote universal access to communications and broadband technologies as a tool for hemispheric competitiveness, development, and economic prosperity.
To stimulate competition and innovation, the President announced the Innovation Fund of the Americasto finance more effective and lower cost solutions to some of the hemisphere’s toughest development challenges. The fund would receive proposals from academia, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and private companies around the world to help USAID and its partners find, test, support, and scale cost-effective solutions that have the potential to reach millions of people.
The Obama Administration’s next-generation citizen security strategy emphasizes an integrated and multilateral partnership to strengthen institutions that will build and sustain the rule of law, address the root causes of crime, and guarantee long-term public security.
While much of the region is enjoying greater peace and prosperity, crime and violence plagues several countries.To improve citizen security, the United States has built strong partnerships through the Merida Initiative, the Central American Citizen Security Partnership, Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), and the Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI).This cooperative approach is based on a recognition of new and traditional threats to the safety of our citizens in the hemisphere.This strategy is grounded in our shared responsibility for action that recognizes the critical importance of political will, rule of law, and effective institutions of governance, as well as common aspirations for secure, prosperous and inclusive societies.
Renewed Energy Partnership
Through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, launched by the President at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, leaders and experts around the hemisphere are working with the U.S. Government on more than 40 initiatives to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner fossil fuels, supported by a modernized and more resilient energy infrastructure.
The United States, in cooperation with Colombia, announced the Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect2022) Initiative, which will seek to accelerate electricity energy integration to ensure that within a decade, every person in the Western Hemisphere will have access to the electricity they need, at a price they can afford, to live their lives, do their work, and educate their children.This effort will have important export promotion, economic and social development, and environmental benefits.
Through these actions and the President's commitment to work as equal partners, the United States is answering the call to action of the 6th Summit of the Americas to put the connections in the region to work to advance U.S. national interests and benefit the people of the Americas.