First Summit of the Americas:



The Miami summit placed great importance on hemispheric integration.   It emphasized the role of the public and private sectors in funding and creating economically and environmentally sound projects. The Miami Plan of Action, therefore, encouraged multilateral development banks to work with governments and, when appropriate, private groups to develop mechanisms that deal with topics such as loans and investments. It also encouraged governments to draw on other regional and sub-regional experiences and support infrastructure development.

Major infrastructure projects have been initiated in a wide range of areas since the Miami Summit. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with the support of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), has attempted to improve national infrastructures through Bank financing. 1995 through 1997 saw the IDB provide an average of $1.6 billion financing annually. Both the IDB and the MIF have been instrumental in providing private loans and guarantees for private infrastructure without government counter guarantees.   Pollution prevention, energy conservation, transportation improvements, water filtration, sanitation, and the strengthening of regulatory entities and frameworks are some of the areas of concern they have addressed.  The IDB has also organized several ministerial meetings, held many public conferences, and published papers on infrastructure matters.

As noted above, the World Bank Group has not been the only group active in improving hemispheric infrastructure.  The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) have also assisted. Nonetheless, the former now finances over $300 million of activities annually.  It created the Private Participation in Infrastructure Group to deal specifically with infrastructure financing.

The private sector has also increased its interest in infrastructure projects, spurring the creation of numerous equity and quasi-equity funds, valuing several billion dollars. These include the Latin Infrastructure Fund and Trust Company for the West. An ever-growing number of infrastructure projects have also obtained their funding from bond and pension fund resources.

It should also be noted that the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, a U.S.-Mexican body which grew out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has approved water and wastewater projects valuing over $260 million. The North American Development Bank, the bilateral International Boundary and Water Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have also funded similar large projects. Canada and the U.S. began the implementation of the Accord on Our Shared Border in 1995. It includes bilateral cooperation objectives on a number of customs transactions, harmonization of border processes, and more efficient delivery of public services. Energy infrastructure projects, including approvals for new petroleum and natural gas pipelines between the US and Mexico, have also resulted in cross-border initiatives since the summit. Other initiatives to increase cross-border trade resulting from the NAFTA accord include the construction of new bridges and border posts.

In Central America, Ministerial meetings have resulted in significant regional accords aimed at implementing freight controls, traffic regulation and roadway preservation. Salvadoran and Honduran private sector foundations even assisted in the construction, financing and administration of a dry canal between ports on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The Government of El Salvador, with the help of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the IDB, has also been successful in resurfacing several highways.

Between Miami and Santiago, responsible coordinators hoped to more clearly define "infrastructure," for the general nature of the term covers a wide range of efforts. They recommended that efforts be made to implement various projects that are already planned, to indentify priorities, and to possibly establish a Summit mechanism for monitoring major infrastructure projects.

  [Miami Summit/tracker.htm]