16th Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, March 8 and 9, 1999



1. Regional activities since the Second Summit of the Americas

A. Meeting of the Western Hemisphere Transportation Initiative Executive Committee, Mexico City, April 24, 1998

Organization of WHTI

It will be recalled that ministers responsible for transportation in the Americas called specifically for creation of a simple and flexible, action-oriented Provisional Organization, and asked the Executive Committee to propose an organization that could fulfill the following tasks: (21) A. Recommend a structure for continuing cooperation among the region’s transportation ministers; B: Prepare a profile of transportation systems and services in the region; and C: Guide preparatory work for future meetings of transportation ministers. (22) Create three Ad-Hoc Working Groups to launch work on specific projects.

There are in fact a number of organizations already engaged in the transportation area at the regional and subregional level, which means that we must define exactly what the role of the WHTI is to be. ECLAC suggested working "from the bottom up", i.e., looking at what each organization does, and attempting to coordinate their efforts. Venezuela noted that some organizations are discussing not only infrastructure and integration, but also integration policies. The USA proposed that the Profile should produce an overall "X-ray" that would analyze the problems, comment on them and offer solutions.

It was proposed that work should be conducted within existing groups or schemes, rather than working directly with the countries (without excluding them) – those groups, of course, already have various working and integration schemes consistent with their respective mandates. Canada welcomed the explanation offered by ECLAC, and asked, "What kind of organization should we create?"

Mexico suggested that at least one member of each scheme should be invited to take part in the Executive Committee’s meetings - in particular those that have made significant progress in the process of regional integration. ECLAC maintained that "the WHTI should be a forum for convergence".

The USA suggested that this should be communicated to every country and also to the organizations, to ensure participation by at least one member of each agency. Similarly, countries and agencies should be consulted about their degree of support for WHTI and their intention to take part in the work. Venezuela noted that in dealing with these issues we should not leave things solely to foreign ministries, but that transportation experts should be more closely involved, including in questions about the structure of the WHTI Executive Committee. ECLAC wants to see the function of the WHTI clarified as a forum, including how it will relate with regional, subregional and Summit schemes.

Preparation of the Profile of the region's transportation systems and services.

Mr. José María Rubiato, from ECLAC, presented a proposed profile, the objective of which would be to provide a short document (10 to 15 pages) with the most significant features, taking into account the experience of other schemes that might be useful elsewhere in the hemisphere, and suggested that the profile should not be compiled country by country, but rather at the subregional system level. Other schemes beyond the hemisphere should also be looked at, and other systems, such as those in Europe, should be asked to cooperate.

Third Ministerial Meeting on the Western Hemisphere Transportation Initiative

The USA suggested holding a third meeting of the region’s transportation ministers, to follow up on the work called for by the Heads of State and Government at the Second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile.

Delegates of Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, the United States, ECLAC and Chile took part in the meeting.

B. Preparatory meeting for the Ministerial, November 8, Washington, DC

The agenda for the December Ministerial Meeting was reviewed, as well as the draft Ministerial Declaration, the Memorandum of Cooperation and the structure and content of the panels that would be established subsequently in New Orleans.

C. The Western Hemisphere Transportation Ministerial, New Orleans, December 14 to 16, 1998.

The Third Hemispheric Meeting of Transportation Ministers (WHTI) was held in New Orleans, USA, December 14 to 16, 1998, and was marked by a spirit of cooperation and efforts to consolidate an integrated transportation system for the Americas.

The meeting discussed topics relating to transportation in the Americas and prepared two documents (see Annex):

In their Declaration, Ministers set forth the objectives and strategies for crystallizing an integrated vision of transportation for the western hemisphere, and identified priority areas for action, with leadership and responsibilities for execution distributed as follows:

  1. Plan of Action for Integration – ECLAC
  2. Transportation Statistics System – Canada, with the support of Jamaica.
  3. Disaster Response Plan – Guatemala, Costa Rica, OAS with the cooperation of Honduras and the CARICOM forum.
  4. Compendium on Safety and Incident Response Best Practices– USA, with the support of Jamaica.
  5. Best Practices Report on Transportation Infrastructure Financing – IDB, with support of Bolivia.
  6. Capacity-Building Seminars – Costa Rica, OAS, Jamaica.
  7. Information Exchange on Transportation Technologies - USA.
  8. Y2K Conference (on the Year 2000 computer problem) – Mexico.

It was decided to set up a "Drafting Group" to draw up terms of reference to provide continuing guidance to the work of the WHTI Executive Committee, which until now was only a provisional body that had met three times in the last two years. In accordance with the delegation of responsibilities under the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998, that drafting group is to be composed of: Chile, the IDB, Argentina and other countries that have offered to cooperate, namely USA, Mexico, Honduras, Canada and a representative of CARICOM.

The Drafting Group will not only prepare the terms of reference, but will also make suggestions on how the Executive Committee should be instituted, and will establish a work schedule, to begin with the coordination meeting of the Drafting Group, which will be open to all interested countries, and will be held on April 23, 1999, in Santiago, Chile.

The proposal that the Chilean coordinator will submit to members of the Drafting Group, after prior circulation to all countries, is as follows:

We consider that the Western Hemisphere Transportation Initiative (WHTI) should be a regional forum for consultation, coordination and joint effort in the area of transportation – or a forum for convergence in transportation policies – acting as a Conference of Transportation Ministers of the Americas.

The institutional structure of the Conference should offer flexible and streamlined administrative support at all times, drawing on the services of regional or international agencies for technical assistance and certain secretarial support functions. One country should be elected to serve as Chair Pro Tempore of the WHTI and the Executive Committee in the intervals between ministerial sessions, and to assume the tasks of coordination and secretarial support, organizing inter-sessional work and calling meetings of the WHTI Executive Committee.

The regulations governing the Conference should as we see it be basic and simple, and should make it possible to organize, coordinate and carry out all efforts to reach the objectives and purposes agreed by the Ministers at their meetings. Thus:

The Executive Committee will be chaired on a rotating basis by a Chair Pro Tempore, who will be elected at the first meeting of the Executive Committee among the countries offering themselves for this task.

The foregoing is without prejudice to the responsibilities assumed in the context of the Second Summit of the Americas held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998.

The Executive Committee will be open to all countries of the Americas, which may attend any meetings they wish. For this reason, they will be informed of the results of every meeting, and of all inter-sessional work.

The Executive Committee will be composed of at least one representative of each of the five regional groups as defined in Chapter 1 of the "Profile of Regional Transportation Systems of the Americas" prepared by ECLAC, namely: NAFTA, the Central American Common Market (MCCA), the Caribbean, the Andean Community and MERCOSUR+, including Chile, which hereby gives notice of its interest in continuing to participate therein (see annex).

The Executive Committee will see to the complete implementation of the Plan of Action agreed by Ministers at their meeting in New Orleans, in particular with respect to the priority action areas as described in the Joint Ministerial Declaration that were accepted by countries in the evaluation meeting on December 17. To monitor progress with these activities, countries will provide the Executive Committee with progress reports on the tasks they have accepted, via the Chair Pro Tempore.

Schedule of Activities

Countries that have accepted tasks in the priority action areas will report to the Drafting Group meeting, and to the first meeting of the WHTI Executive Committee, which the current Chair Pro Tempore has undertaken to hold on April 23, 1999, in Santiago, Chile, with respect to the progress they have made in carrying out the work agreed on December 17, 1998, and as described in the Transportation Action Plan agreed at the Second Summit of the Americas.

During that meeting, a schedule of activities will be drawn up for the various tasks, and the date of the second meeting of the Executive Committee will be set, as well as the modus operandi for conducting inter-sessional work.

Profile of Regional Transportation Systems of the Americas

Mr. José María Rubiato, representing ECLAC, made a presentation to Ministers on the Profile of Regional Transportation Systems of the Americas, which offers a panoramic view of the region’s transportation systems, their functioning and their likely evolution. This can be seen (in Spanish only) at:


2. Analysis of activities to date in follow-up to the mandates of the Second Summit in Santiago.

Note should be made here of the impetus that hemispheric transportation ministers gave to the Plan of Action of the Second Summit of the Americas, during their Third Ministerial Meeting.

It is also important to note that priority areas have been identified for action, and various countries and institutions have taken on the responsibility of carrying out the tasks recognized as priorities for crystallizing the vision of an integrated transportation sector in the Americas.

The imminent establishment of the Executive Committee, which will replace the current provisional arrangements, will give the Conference an institutional foundation and, we hope, will help to speed up its work in response to the demands of the Plan of Action.

3. Plans for carrying out the mandate of the Santiago Summit.

The Executive Committee will need to draw up plans for carrying out these tasks (in coordination with those responsible for the Plan of Action), in particular with respect to national undertakings, i.e., each country will be expected to prepare a report on its efforts on behalf of regional integration, so as to provide a comprehensive overview that must be closely linked to the determination of regional commitments. As an important first contribution in this respect, ECLAC has prepared the Profile of Regional Transportation Systems in the Americas.

It should be noted that the various "regional subgroups" have taken on a series of tasks. The WHTI Executive Committee will have the lead role, to ensure that there is no duplication of effort in following up given objectives.

With respect to the tasks taken on, Mexico has already convened a hemispheric conference (set tentatively for May 14 to 17) to examine the Y2K computer problem and its implications for transportation.

4. Major problems to date in fulfilling the mandates of the Second Summit, and suggestions for overcoming them

It is clear that progress has been made, but there is a recognized need to coordinate efforts more effectively. The WHTI Executive Committee will need therefore to be responsive and flexible in its work, making use of all means of communication, e.g. the internet and conference calls, so that progress can continue "between sessions" as well.

Similarly, basic regulations will need to be adopted to govern the work of the WHTI, and to organize, coordinate and carry out its tasks and achieve its goals.

Another problem that has surfaced is the large number of meetings that are being held in different forums with a view to coordinating the same tasks. To deal with this problem, work should go on between sessions as well, and the Executive Committee should compile the information it receives from each sub-group, coordinate efforts and maintain an updated global overview of the sector throughout the hemisphere.

Internet addresses of interest [Summit of the Americas Information System]:

1. For the overall transportation infrastructure issue:  http://www.summit-americas.org/hemisture.htm#b

2. With respect to the Profile of Regional Transportation Systems of the Americas:  http://www.summit-americas.org/Transportation-perfil-spanish.htm

3. Declaration of Solidarity: Memorandum of Consultations on Disaster Response Cooperation in Central America and the Caribbean:  http://www.summit-americas/Transportation-Consultation.htm

4. Declaration of the Western Hemisphere Transportation Ministerial: http://www.summit-americas.org/Transportation3.htm