"The central point of our action must be the creation of new job and investment opportunities, as they are the engine of well-being and growth."
President Vincent Fox, Inauguration of the Special Summit of the Americas, January 12, 2004, Monterrey, Mexico

On Sunday, January 11th, 2004, in Monterrey, Mexico, the Government of Mexico together with the Summits of the Americas Secretariat organized a Forum with the private sector in the framework of the Special Summit of the Americas.  Seventy-four participants represented companies from a number of countries of the Americas.

The forum, moderated by Yeidckol Polewnsky, President of  the Cámara Nacional de la Industria de la Transformación (Canacintra), was a dialogue in which company representatives discussed and exchanged ideas and strategies with the Plenipotentiary Ministers regarding the topics addressed by the Summit of the Americas:  economic growth with equity to reduce poverty, social development, and democratic governance.  The objective of the forum was to promote the support of the companies for the concrete initiatives of the Special Summit, to foster the establishment of a consultative mechanism for the private sector, and to emphasize the role of the private sector in the attainment of the Summit of the Americas goals.

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Dr. César Gaviria, inaugurated the ceremony by welcoming the business and country representatives and by stressing the importance of the active role of all the sectors of the society in the summits process.

In his presentation, Mr. Enrique Madero Bracho, International President of the Latin American Business Council (CEAL), commented that the private sector is ready to commit itself to the political determination of the governments in order to achieve a shared social development in the Americas, and to contribute to the betterment of the economic and social situation of the nations in an environment of collaboration to maintain peace and security.

Afterwards, Mr. Norman Anderson, President of CG/LA Infrastructure, addressed the subject of economic growth with equity, where he emphasized the need to increase the joint work between the private and the public sector in infrastructure and highlighted its basic elements in the countries and its relationship with national economic growth.  In accordance with some of the points in the Declaration of Nuevo León, Anderson defined the importance of creating economic options for small and middle-sized businesses to establish themselves and to grow dynamically.  He further called on the countries to increase investment in infrastructure in order to guarantee benefits to citizens such as the following:  risk reduction, better working conditions, good services, and consequently, economic and social development.  Finally, he recommended giving higher priority to infrastructure investment including cooperation with the business sector at different levels.

In the subject of social development, Mr. Alberto Pfeifer of CEAL Brazil, noted that it is necessary to create associations with civil society and the private sector to work in the social agenda proposed at the Summit.  He further highlighted the topic of education and the need to broaden the transfer of science and technology with universities, institutions of higher education, and to establish joint ventures to find positive solutions to development challenges.

Finally, the Vice-President of the Centro de Pensamiento del Sector Privado de El Salvador (FUSADE), Jorge Zahblah-Touche, remarked on the subject of democratic governance addressing the idea that this should include the participation and the responsibility of the State, companies, and civil society, where each one assumes their function in the corresponding environment, and that the completion of the respective missions is the key to the development of the nations.  He noted that civil society is increasingly stronger, demanding, and entrepreneurial, but he warned that within the transition from closed to open economies there are still obstacles in achieving true democracy.  Therefore, he stressed the need to fight to solve the governance crisis and the threats to governance through strengthening institutions.  He concluded by saying that the facilitator role of a strong private sector that creates opportunities and competition will contribute building societies that are just and prosperous thanks to trust in democracy. 

In response, country delegates indicated that an interrelation exists between the three discussed subjects, highlighting that governance, transparency, and institutional strengthening are basic elements in accomplishing credibility and trust.  They also pointed out that the commitments and goals of the Summit should be realized through concrete and measurable proposals and appreciated the opportunity to exchange ideas with the private sector and civil society in general.

The last intervention on behalf of the private sector representatives was the presentation by Mr. Nahuel Villegas and Robert Graves of Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) on the subject:  “Digital television, overcoming the digital gap”, regarding how digital television has improved the lives of people in America and the Caribbean and the ways, such as distance learning and reaching underserved areas, in which it can benefit social development throughout the continent.

At the closing session of the meeting, the Foreign Minister of México, Dr. Luis Ernesto Derbéz thanked the representatives of the private sector for their interest in supporting the initiatives of the Summit.  He invited them to continue their commitment with their national governments and with the summit process in order to achieve the ambitious goals of the Hemisphere.

The Summit of the Americas process is a useful mechanism for the private sector to promote trade and investment interests through the broad economic, social, and political agenda of the Americas.  The Private Sector Forum offers an excellent opportunity to achieve these goals through dialogue between a select group of business representatives and officials from the 34 participating countries. 


The stenographical version of the remarks given during the Private Sector Forum (Spanish only)

Presentation by Mr. Rober Graves - Digital Television (Spanish only)

Remarks by Jorge Zablah - Touche - Vice - President of FUSADE Fundación El Salvador de Desarrollo (Spanish only)

letter of invitation

Photos from the Forum: