Posts Tagged ‘ACF’

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A Note of Thanks: Celebrating Walter Bastian’s Lifetime of Achievement

November 2, 2012

Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. Follow him on Twitter @UnderSecSanchez.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Walter M. Bastian

Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Walter M. Bastian

Walter Bastian embodies the best of public service.  He doesn’t measure success by how well he does, but by how well he can help others.  And during his decades at the Department of Commerce, he has indeed helped others and made great contributions to the global community.

In recognition of his accomplishments, last week, Walter was one of nine recipients of the 2012 Americas Award for his lifetime of achievement.  Having had the chance to work with him closely in recent years, I must tell you: he is very deserving of this honor.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Walter has developed programs, policies and strategies to strengthen the United States’ commercial position in the region — the destination for roughly 40 percent of U.S. exports.  And in doing so, he’s also committed himself to expanding opportunity and prosperity throughout the Americas.

One of Walter’s greatest accomplishments was playing a central role in founding the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF).  The initial idea for a meeting of Western Hemisphere commerce ministers was offered by President George W. Bush at the 2005 Summit of the Americas.  Walter helped make that idea a reality.

Walter saw beyond what was being asked and instead focused on what more could be accomplished. He understood that competitiveness is not just a national issue, but a hemispheric one.

For that reason, he set about creating a forum to motivate the region’s government leaders to work in partnership with the private sector, academia, and civil society to improve the economic prosperity of their own countries, and ensure a brighter future for the people of the region.

Since its inauguration in 2007, the ACF has become the preeminent economic and commercial event in the Americas, attracting hundreds of participants from the Western Hemisphere’s public and private sectors.  It has helped to create and strengthen the kinds of partnerships that are necessary for regional integration and future growth.

Bottom line: progress is achieved by people who want to make a difference.  And Walter Bastian has made a difference.  He has dedicated his time, talent and passion to bringing the Americas closer together through commerce. And we have all benefited.

On behalf of the International Trade Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and our partners throughout the region — thank you, Walter.

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Under Secretary Sánchez Participates in Americas Competitiveness Forum

October 31, 2012

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Marc Buergi is a fellow in the Office of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration

U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez led Commerce’s delegation to this year’s Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Cali, Colombia, October 24-26.

Sánchez’s participation underscored the U.S. government’s commitment to enhance the competitiveness of the Americas – a region that is vital to the U.S. economy. With Mexico and Canada, it not only includes two of our three largest trading partners, but also some of our key trade agreement partners, including the host country Colombia.

The Obama administration and the Commerce Department are firmly committed to strengthening U.S. trade within the Western Hemisphere. At the 2012 Summit of the Americas, President Obama announced a number of initiatives designed to enhance this important trade relationship. These included the 100,000 Strong Initiative to expand student education exchanges; and the creation of the Innovation Fund of the Americas that increases access to export financing thereby expanding trade opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

In Cali, Sánchez reported on the strong efforts of all U.S. government agencies to advance these initiatives.

The ACF, first held in 2007, tries to improve the region’s competitiveness through innovation, entrepreneurship, public-private partnership and mutual engagement. Hundreds  of representatives from the region’s public and private sector participated in a continental dialogue on competitiveness. Among the numerous guests were heads of state, ministers of economy, commerce, trade and industry, and leaders from academia, civil society, and business.

This year’s ACF helped further develop the goals established at last year’s Forum in the Dominican Republic: In 2011, the “Santo Domingo Consensus” set forth 10 objectives to promote progress toward a more competitive and prosperous region in areas like education, infrastructure, and trade liberalization.

The participants of this year’s ACF learned about the progress and experiences the countries made in adopting the 10 principles: At the opening event of the Forum, the Inter-American Competitiveness Network presented its report “Signs of Competitiveness of the Americas.”

The ACF featured several collateral events, including a business ethics workshop focused on the medical device industry in the Americas, a higher education forum focused on STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and a closed door meeting of ministers of trade, commerce and industry.

Commerce is looking forward to helping deliver on the action items put forward at this important event.

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Promoting Growth and Competitiveness in the Americas

November 1, 2011

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By Eric Toler, an intern in the ITA’s Market Access and Compliance unit.

At the fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum, held this year in the Dominican Republic, representatives of more than 30 countries from throughout the Western Hemisphere pledged to take steps to foster long-term economic prosperity and support growth in trade throughout the region.

Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade, addresses attendees of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, held October 5–7 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade, addresses attendees of the Americas Competitiveness Forum, held October 5–7 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

The United States sends more than 40 percent of its exports to the Western Hemisphere, making the region one of our most important trading partners. And with the recent passage of the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements, U.S. economic ties with the region will only deepen. On October 5–7 at the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a delegation from the International Trade Administration (ITA) joined with its counterparts from throughout the Americas to chart a course for enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economies, demonstrating the long-term commitment to strengthening economic ties with the region.

Fifth Gathering

This year’s event brought together more than 1,000 senior business and government officials. Participants included ministers of economy, industry, and finance from more than 30 countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. Also present were former and current heads of state, as well as representatives from civil society. Over the course of the ACF’s three days, Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade and leader of the U.S. delegation, met with a number of his counterparts. He reiterated President Barack Obama’s commitment to forging new, mutually beneficial partnerships with the countries of the Western Hemisphere. In remarks at a plenary session, “Latin America and the United States: Vision 2020,” Sánchez noted that “success in the 21st century will be fueled by cooperation and community. We must help each other sharpen our competitive edges and build a better future for our peoples.”

Now in its fifth year, the ACF has emerged as the premier economic and commercial event of the Americas. The inaugural ACF was held in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2007. As host, the Department of Commerce was responsible for developing the core themes and unique programmatic structure of the event. The success of the inaugural ACF has been replicated in the subsequent four forums.

Regional Competitiveness

The ACF also featured the annual meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (or RIAC, for its Spanish acronym). RIAC was established in 2009 at the third ACF in Santiago, Chile. It brings together representatives from more than 30 national councils from throughout the Western Hemisphere’s to discuss the state of the region’s competitiveness, exchange experiences and best practices, and consider reforms and public policies.

High on the agenda at this year’s meeting of the RIAC was a vote on the Santo Domingo Consensus, a set of 10 policy objectives designed to promote a more competitive and prosperous region. Taking into account the need to foster growth and competitiveness amidst an environment of international economic uncertainty, the objectives of the Santo Domingo Consensus call for, among other goals, investment in education and human capital; improvements in infrastructure and the business environment; increased access to capital; and the promotion of trade(see sidebar).

RELATED: The Santo Domingo Consensus

Michael Camuñez, assistant secretary of commerce for market access and compliance, represented the United States at the RIAC meeting. He highlighted the importance of the objectives embodied in the Santo Domingo Consensus by noting that “in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we must work together as a region. In doing so, we will create the jobs and sustained economic growth so vital to our respective futures.”

Summit of the Americas

The Santo Domingo Consensus was approved enthusiastically by members of the RIAC, and will next be presented to hemispheric leaders for their endorsement at the Summit of the Americas that is scheduled to be held in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 2012.

Both the ACF and RIAC provide a platform to promote reforms that will support economic growth in the Western Hemisphere and which will in turn help increase and encourage the export of U.S. products, services, and technologies throughout the Americas.

The next ACF, scheduled for October 2012, will be held in Cali, Colombia. For more information about this year’s ACF, go to www.competitivenessforum.com.

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The Santo Domingo Consensus

November 1, 2011

John Ward is a writer in the Office of Public Affairs.

Attendees at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC), which was held during the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Delegates approved the Santo Domingo Consensus, a set of 10 policy objectives designed to promote a more competitive and prosperous region. (photo courtesy RIAC)

Attendees at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC), which was held during the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Delegates approved the Santo Domingo Consensus, a set of 10 policy objectives designed to promote a more competitive and prosperous region. (photo courtesy RIAC)

On October 5, 2011, the competitiveness and innovation authorities of more than 30 Western Hemisphere countries gathered in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to attend the 2011 annual meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). There, they approved the Santo Domingo Consensus, which sets forth 10 objectives that are designed to promote progress toward a more competitive and prosperous region. Here are portions of the text that describe each of the 10 objectives:

  • Education: “Promote high-quality, pertinent and timely education as a key element to enhance the competitiveness, good values, and attitudes, and the development of our countries.”
  • Public-private engagement: “Foster the establishment of effective institutions responsible for promoting competitiveness with direct private-sector involvement and other relevant actors, including existing entities, and Public-Private Partnerships to address short and long-term competitiveness issues.”
  • Transparency and rule of law: “Promote a simpler, more stable, and efficient institutional and regulatory framework for business and investment, by increasing transparency in government, the rule of law, promoting competition in our markets, and ethical conduct in the interactions between the public and private sector[s]Human Capital:.”
  • Human capital: “Prioritize the development of human capital and promote continuous on-the-job training and the acquisition of new competencies to develop world-class skills for the human capital and productivity of our countries.”
  • Infrastructure: “Foster the development of a modern, efficient, well-maintained infrastructure—between and within countries—and foster the rapid adoption of new technologies by economies, including information technology and communications.”
  • Innovation: “Position innovation and high-impact entrepreneurship as a determining factor for competitiveness, through greater public and private investment in research and development, the interaction with academia, and the adoption of innovation-enabling policies and strategies, including the protections of the rights of intellectual property holders in the framework of our development policies.”
  • Access to capital: “Improve access to capital for economic actors, especially MSMEs [micro, small and medium-sized enterprises] and entrepreneurs, and promote public-private mechanisms to increase financial inclusion.”
  • Corporate social responsibility: “Foster equity, inclusion, social entrepreneurship, the adoption and application of corporate social responsibility principles, sustainability, shared value, and gender equity as fundamental elements to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of our region.”
  • Trade liberalization: “Promote trade and integration, trade liberalization, to diversify our economies with high value-added and quality products and services, fostering the internationalization and participation in global value chains, and, improve the competitiveness and productivity of industry, giving special priority to our MSMEs.”
  • Energy efficiency: “Promote energy efficiency and development in the context of our efforts to foster environmental, social and economic sustainability, including the vision to become low carbon economies.”

To see the full text of the Santo Domingo Consensus, go to www.competitivenessforum.org.

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Economic Growth in the Western Hemishpere Will Be Focus of Fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum

September 9, 2011

by Peter Bowman, an international trade specialist in The International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit.

The fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF), the preeminent economic and commercial event in the Western Hemisphere, will take place October 5–7, 2011, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The ACF grew out of a commitment made by the United States in November 2005 at the Summit of the Americas held at Mar del Plata, Argentina, to cooperate to advance common prosperity, combat inequality, and achieve sustainable economic growth throughout the hemisphere. The first gathering was held in Atlanta, Georgia, in June 2007.

U.S. and Mexican representatives meet in Atlanta, Georgia, November 2010 during the fourth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). Representatives from more than 34 countries are expected to attend the fifth ACF, which will be held October 5–7, 2011 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

U.S. and Mexican representatives meet in Atlanta, Georgia, November 2010 during the fourth Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF). Representatives from more than 34 countries are expected to attend the fifth ACF, which will be held October 5–7, 2011 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

Since then, the ACF has worked to inspire programs, policies, and partnerships that will improve the economic prosperity at the local, national, and regional levels and, thereby, ensure a brighter future for all people in the region.

This year, the fifth ACF is expected to bring together more than 1,000 public- and private-sector participants from throughout the Western Hemisphere. Representatives from more than 34 countries will attend, including heads of state; ministers of economy, industry, and finance; academic leaders; and members of civil society and business.

The ACF distinguishes itself from other international gatherings by presenting a unique blend of public–private policy dialogue on best practices in competitiveness and by offering many services for participating businesses. Services include export counseling sessions, market opportunity sessions, and business-to-business (and business-to-government) meetings.

Each ACF program is built around key themes that represent the drivers of competitiveness. The core themes of this year’s ACF are education, renewable energy, trade facilitation, business climate, and innovation in services.

This year, the ACF will also host a meeting of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network, which was launched at the 2009 ACF in Santiago, Chile, with support from the participating governments and the Organization of American States (OAS). In addition, Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas, an initiative that promotes inclusive growth, prosperity, and social justice, will host a working group meeting with the Inter-American Development Bank, the OAS, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean as strategic partners.

For more information on the fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum, as well as registration instructions, visit the forum’s Web site at www.competitivenessforum.com. For additional information, contact Peter Bowman in the International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance unit, tel.: (202) 482-8356; e-mail: peter.bowman@trade.gov.

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ACF Atlanta, a Huge Success

November 16, 2010

This post contains external links.  Please review our external linking policy

Francisco J. Sánchez is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

The rain today, didn’t stop hundreds of leaders from across the Western Hemisphere from attending the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) in Atlanta.

The final leg of an informative, action packed conference, the agenda featured Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes.

The day, which began with a presidential address, covered topics ranging from international education on the benefits of strategic alliances to market opportunities in the Caribbean.

We at the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Administration are extremely pleased with the outcome of the conference, and look forward to passing the baton from the United States to the Dominican Republic this evening, the 2011 host country.

In closing, I’d like to take a moment to extend a heartfelt thank you to Walter Bastian, Tricia Johnson, the entire Western Hemisphere team and all of my staff who worked so hard to plan a productive conference to advance global competitiveness across the region.

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ACF, Green Technology Exports, Brazil and a Two-Year Partnership

November 15, 2010

This post contains external links.  Please review our external linking policy

Cora Dickson is a Senior International Trade Specialist with the International Trade Administration working in the Office of Energy and Environmental Industries

With three breakout sessions on “green technologies” over the next two days, the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) is the perfect setting to officially launch a two-year Market Development Cooperation Program (MDCP) award, “Export Green: Growing SME Exports to Brazil.”

Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez (center) presents MDCP award at the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta on November 14.

Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez (center) presents MDCP award at the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta on November 14.

Like all MDCPs, this will result in a close working partnership between the cooperator, in this case the National Chamber Foundation, and the International Trade Administration (ITA).  On average, for every dollar that ITA invests in MDCP awards generates $125 in exports; awards are granted only to non-profit groups.  As an industry expert on the staff of the Office and Energy and Environmental Industries, my role will be to coordinate ITA and U.S. government resources and to liaise with the cooperator.

Yesterday during an intimate meet-and-greet for U.S. ACF attendees, Under Secretary Sánchez and Assistant Secretary Camuñez congratulated the Chamber Foundation and pledged ITA support for the exciting array of activities being planned – including trade missions, business forums, webinars, and Brazilian buying missions to green tech trade shows in the United States.  Steven Bipes, Executive Director, Brazil-U.S. Business Council, and Kathleen McInerney, Manager, Trade Roots were both on hand to receive the award and talk about the goals of the partnership.  It all starts with a survey of U.S. green tech companies.  The results of the survey will provide a foundation on which to build the MDCP, and also help the cooperator keep companies apprised of upcoming events and opportunities.   If you are a green tech small or medium-sized company interested in entering or expanding your overseas activities especially in Brazil, please take the survey.

Non-profit organizations interested in hearing more about how they can apply to become an MDCP partner can attend “Partnering to Double Exports” on December 1.

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