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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Wraps Up Fourth Annual Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
202-482-4883

Locke announces 2011 Forum in the Dominican Republic

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke concluded the Fourth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Atlanta today, wrapping up two days of discussions with public and private sector leaders from 34 Western Hemisphere nations. The Forum was concluded with the announcement that the Fifth Annual ACF will be held in the Dominican Republic in October 2011.

"As our economy continues to grow, events like the ACF provide excellent opportunities for the business community to showcase new ideas and technologies, explore new markets, and uncover future opportunities for economic growth and job creation," Locke said. “We hope that the hundreds of public and private sector leaders here will leave with new ideas to foster programs, policies, and partnerships that will improve the economic prosperity of our individual countries and ensure a brighter future for all the people of the region."

This year’s ACF brought together business leaders and policy makers from 34 Western Hemisphere nations to share best practices for enhancing the competitiveness, innovation, and prosperity of the region.
 
ACF 2010 was attended by nearly 1,000 participants, including President Funes of El Salvador, Vice President Garzón of Colombia, Vice President Alburquerque of the Dominican Republic, Vice President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama, as well as over fifteen commerce, trade, industry, education and health ministers.
 
At the conclusion of the Forum, the Ministers and Vice Presidents issued a joint communiqué which called for more collaboration between the Hemisphere's competitive councils and more engagement to foster growth of small and medium sized businesses.
 
During the closing meeting with Ministers, the group agreed to increased collaboration, programs, and initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the countries in the Western Hemisphere, especially in the areas of workforce development, green economy, entrepreneurship, and small and medium-sized businesses’ productivity and innovation.
 
Other notable events at the Forum included:

  • The Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC) – RIAC, a network of competitiveness councils from throughout the Hemisphere, held its first formal meeting since its creation at ACF 2009 in Santiago, Chile. Members discussed the main elements for a 2020 Competitiveness Agenda in the Americas and agreed on next steps for the implementation of the Competitiveness Agenda focusing on jobs and prosperity.
  • Competitiveness in the Caribbean Workshop – The Organization of American States (OAS) hosted a Special Dialogue on Caribbean Competitiveness to enhance the region’s ability to compete and support the development of a regional Caribbean competitiveness institution.
  • The U.S. - Central American Renewable Energy Forum – The meeting focused on identifying the opportunities and obstacles to greater use of renewable energy options, and greater integration among and between, Central American energy systems.
  • Uruguay-United States Cooperation on Education and Workforce Development – The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum of intent to cooperate on education and workforce development projects.
  • Costa Rica: Authorized Economic Operators – Costa Rica announced its compliance with the World Customs Organization’s SAFE Framework of Standards. Following discussions on customs and supply chain issues at ACF 2008, Department of Commerce customs experts hosted training programs for customs agencies throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and Peru.  These trainings improved public-private relationships and led to overhauls in border clearance and security procedures.
  • Franchising in the Americas Guide – The International Franchise Association and Brazilian Franchising Association announced their plans to develop a bilingual guide on how to export franchises to Brazil and the United States to support job creation, investment, and trade between the countries. The guide, which will be available in Portuguese and English, can potentially be a model to share across all countries of the Americas.