Updated June 7, 2001

Second Summit of the Americas:  


General Infrastructure:

First Summit of the Americas, Miami, U.S.A. (December 1994):

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.

2. Between the Summits (January 1995- March 1998)

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.

Second Summit of the Americas, Santiago, Chile (April, 1998):

Governments gave the Inter-American Development Bank the responsibility of preparing a draft set of voluntary principles to be adopted by each of the countries.  It facilitated private sector participation in local and transnational infrastructure projects, which serve as a basis for bilateral and multilateral agreements. This draft was submitted to Governments by December 1998.   In 1999, ministers responsible for infrastructure discussed the issue again.


1. First Summit of the Americas, Miami, U.S.A. (December 1994)

Miami’s Initiative 11 bound States to strengthen capital commitments to infrastructure projects. Central to this initiative is transportation, for without a dependable infrastructure, trade and economic relations may not be expanded. Realizing the importance of this area, governments convened the Second Hemispheric Summit of Transportation in Santiago in April 1996.

2. Between the Summits (January 1995- March 1998)

Ministers responsible for transportation met in Santiago, Chile in April, 1996. The meeting resulted in the issuance of a Joint Ministerial Statement and Plan of Action, which addresses the issues of transportation safety, financial viability, and environmental friendliness. The meeting also witnessed the adoption of the Western Hemisphere’s Transportation Initiative, to promote a viable transportation infrastructures throughout the hemisphere. It is hoped that this initiative will foster economic growth and development of Summit countries.

3. Second Summit of the Americas, Santiago, Chile (April, 1998)

The Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas (Santiago, 1998) included undertaking, to the fullest extent possible, and taking into account the objectives and mandates of the Joint Ministerial Declaration and Plan of Action of the 1996 Ministerial Meeting in Santiago, for the purpose of:

Next Stages:

The United States Department of Transportation hosted a Western Hemisphere Transportation Ministerial, December 14 to 16, 1998 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The theme of the Ministerial was "Transportation in the 21st Century: A Vision for Integration."  The three-day conference featured joint government-private industry discussion panels.  Major themes for discussion included: integrating transportation institutions; transportation safety and its economic impact; transportation and trade (barriers and infrastructure); transportation technology.

The Ministerial was guided by a central document on transportation systems in the hemisphere prepared by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.  The document, "Profile of Regional Transport Systems of the Americas" (available in Spanish only for the moment) offers a synthesis of the transportation systems in the Americas.  The purpose of this study was to give a point of departure that gives direction to the work agenda of the ITHO.  

Several noteworthy speeches were made during the Ministerial, including an address by US Transportation Secretary, Rodney E. Slater, made during the Opening Plenary Session; remarks by former White House Chief of Staff and Special Envoy for the Americas, Thomas "Mack" McLarty; and a speech (Spanish only) by the Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of Chile, Mr. Claudio Hohmann given during the Ministers' second roundtable discussion.

The Ministers of Transportation issued a statement of solidarity (Memorandum of Consultations on Disaster Response Cooperation) with the nations of Central America and the Caribbean in light of the devastation caused by hurricanes Mitch and Georges.  In addition, the Ministers signed a Ministerial Declaration, which clearly sets out a vision for transportation in the Americas in the 21st Century.  

The OAS, participating principally as an observer and as the institutional memory of the Summit Process, delivered some remarks to the Ministers outlining the efforts it is making to implement the Transportation mandate.

Western Hemisphere Transportation Ministers' Roundtable
October 12-13, 2000
Inter-American Development Bank
Washington, D.C.

On October 13, 2000, the Ministers of Transportation of the Hemisphere gathered in a Roundtable in Washington, D.C. The Ministers' Roundtable represented the next important step in achieving a closer cooperation in transportation among the nations of the Wstern Hemisphere. Much had been accomplished since the last Ministers Meeting, held in 1998. The actions to comply with the WHTI have been overseen by the WHTI Executive Committee, to which all member nations as well as the ECLAC, the IDB and the OAS belong. 

The status of follow-up on the directives and priority actions identified in 1998 is summarized below:

WHTI Meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Aviation Safety

At the aforementioned Roundtable meeting, the U.S. submitted a proposal to create a Partnership for Safer Skies in the Western Hemisphere. In order to have a formal proposal ready for the March 15-16, 2001, ministerial session, an ad hoc Working Group on Aviation Safety was formed to consider the idea. This group met in Washington, DC, on February 21, 2001, and maintained that the region's safety oversight capabilities to meet challenges that will result from an anticipated growth in civil aviation will be strengthened if cooperation among states were increased.

With this in mind, the group identified several issues for Ministerial consideration and recommended that the Ministers create a Group of Experts that would "cut across ministries to assess aviation safety needs in the region, exchange information, identify areas for enhanced cooperation, and develop recommendations for future action." The Group also asked that Canada's director general for civil aviation chair this Group. To obtain the full report of this meeting, please click here.

For more information regarding the WHTI and its upcoming events and activities, please click here.



1. First Summit of the Americas, Miami, U.S.A. (December 1994)

In Miami, the Heads of State acknowledged that information infrastructure, including telecommunications, information technology, and broadcasting, is an essential component of political, economic, social and cultural development. The leaders also acknowledged that information infrastructure development needs in the Americas are immense.

The governments thus set out key objectives in this domain, namely:

The OAS' Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL) was given a specific mandate to develop and carry out a work program in conjunction with the sub-regional telecommunications organizations. The Miami Plan of Action mandated a program which consists of the following actions:

  1. Evaluate regulatory, technical and legal means to promote liberalization, common standards, interoperability of networks and compatible use of the radio spectrum.
  2. Examine ways to promote greater consistency of the certification processes for telecommunications equipment among member countries.
  3. Develop regional guidelines for the provision of international value-added network services; and
  4. Coordinate a meeting, by 1996, of senior telecommunications officials to conduct further discussions of the above actions.

2. Between the Summits (January 1995- March 1998)

The most significant event between the two summits took the form of a Senior Telecommunications Officials meeting in Washington in September 1996, consistent with objective (d) listed above. The meeting, chaired by Chile, resulted in the adoption of a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action. The latter stated that adequate access to telecom services should be a basic objective of the American States, executed through both CITEL and regional/international telecommunications organizations. Ten specific objectives were named in the Plan of Action, summarized as follows:

  1. The promotion of provision of telecommunications services at reasonable rates, including universal access and service;
  2. The implementation of creation of regulatory frameworks to facilitate changes and innovation in telecommunications, and to facilitate implementation of the Global Information Infrastructure Initiative;
  3. Supporting of training programs in the area;
  4. Protection of user rights;
  5. Encouragement of telecom use to support education and health care;
  6. Efficient use of the radio spectrum;
  7. Encouragement of fair competition in the sector, both with respect to providers of services and interconnections, according to principles of transparency and non-discrimination;
  8. Promotion of common positions of CITEL countries for multilateral conferences;
  9. Use of telecommunications to assist with the preservation of human life, and to increase public safety in response to emergencies and natural disasters; and
  10. Enhancement of regional coordination for value-added services, equipment certification, and coordination of standards.

The OAS continued to do important work in the area of communications during the intervening years. The efforts of the Organization during this period, in which CITEL has been an integral and invaluable participant, have been compartmentalized below:

(a) Reports, Guidelines, Regulations and Conventions

Guidelines have been adopted to encourage greater consistency towards certification procedures for telecommunications equipment, for the purpose of regional harmonization. "The Blue Book", (the full name of which is Recommendations on Telecommunications Policies for the Countries of the Americas), written by CITEL and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), proposes standards and guidelines to improve the information superhighway in the Americas. In addition CITEL has continued efforts to draft a Convention on Value-added Telecommunications Services, guidelines for which have been approved.

(b) Project Implementation

A program has been commenced to implement the Global Information Infrastructure for the Americas Initiative, aimed to extend telecommunications services to remote and rural areas of less developed nations.

(c) Working Groups

CITEL’s Working Group on Legal Matters has worked on a project to identify differences in administrative procedures and regulatory systems in the telecommunications field of OAS member states. An ad-hoc working group was created to examine new methods for international distribution rates for telecommunications services. In addition, several CITEL working groups have been reinforced, such as those on Basic Telecommunications Services and Network Modernization.

(d) Databases and Information Gathering

CITEL and the ITU have worked together to create a database dealing with frequency allocation in the Americas, which will simplify multilateral agreements on the frequency system.

(e) Cooperation with other Organizations and OAS Offices

As mentioned above, CITEL works in close cooperation with the ITU for various projects. At the ITU’s Radio-communications Conference of Oct/Nov 1997, CITEL submitted over 40 proposals for telecommunications improvement. Furthermore, and in keeping with the Miami and Washington directives, working alliances have been formed with the Hispanic American Association of Investigation and Telecommunications Enterprises, and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union. And CITEL is not the only OAS Office dealing with telecommunications, the Office of Science and Technology is lending its support for a Hemisphere-Wide Inter-University Scientific and Technological Information Network, in which technical assistance and equipment are being provided to member countries to assist with internet connections for scientific usage.

3. Second Summit of the Americas, Santiago, Chile (April, 1998)

The Heads of State in Santiago formulated six substantial objectives with regards to telecommunications. These mandate the member governments to:

  1. Establish strategies to support the development and continuous updating of a regional telecommunications infrastructure plan, taking into account national plans, the need for universal access to basic telecommunications services throughout the Region and the evolution of Global Information Society;
  2. Work together in close cooperation with the private sector to rapidly build out the telecommunications infrastructure in the Region, adopting strategies to make affordable access available to all for basic telephone service and the internet, such as implementing the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission guidelines on value added services and encouraging, the development of community information service centers that provide access to basic telephone and value-added services, computers, the internet and multimedia services bearing in mind the diverse needs of the countries of the Region and divergent levels of development;
  3. Promote, in cooperation with the private sector, the exchange and distribution of information concerning regulatory matters such as universal access/service, interconnection and the establishment of independent regulatory bodies, taking into account the commitments made in the World Trade Organization's Agreements on Trade in Basic Telecommunications Services (the GBT Agreement), developments in the Free Trade Area of the Americas process, and the Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the 1996 Senior Telecommunications Officials Meeting held in Washington D.C. with a view to developing, wherever possible, and subject to national constraints, best practice guidelines and requesting when needed the assistance of CITEL, regional telecommunications organizations, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and others as appropriate;
  4. Foster, together with the private sector, the development of applications over electronic networks, such as the internet, broadcast television and radio, that taking into account different socio-economic conditions and languages, will support education, health, agriculture and sustainable rural development, electronic commerce and other applications assisting small savers, Micro-enterprises and Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) and modernization of the State;
  5. Encourage CITEL to address, with some urgency, studies of the standards coordination aspects of the telecommunications infrastructure, including the areas of Telecommunications Management Network (TMN) and Intelligent Networks (IN) so that the network can evolve to meet the interconnection requirements and to support the implementation of new applications in the regional context; and
  6. Continue to examine ways to develop consistent regulatory approaches among member countries leading to the promotion of greater commonality in the certification processes for telecommunications equipment, and to the establishment of a framework and to move toward the negotiation and implementation of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) for telecommunications equipment encompassing all the countries of the Region.

CITEL, working with the private sector and the IDB to provide expert technical advise to the Member Countries in:

The major projects that CITEL is currently working on, include the following:

CITEL has also established working groups and/or that are dealing with:

From June 14 to 18, 1999, the Fifth Meeting of the Permanent Advisory Committee II was held in  Montevideo, Uruguay.  During the event a seminar on Digital Sound Broadcasting was held in which the latest technologies were analyzed.  Other topics which were discussed included a study for the implementation of digital cable television service and the preparations for the upcoming World Conference on Radio-Communications of the International Telecommunications Union which will take place in the year 2000.

During 1999 great strides were made towards compliance with the mandates received from the Summit of the Americas by implementing the following activities: 

  1. adoption of a reference book on Universal Service in the Americas, developed jointly with the ITU and AHCIET; 
  2. the endorsement of an Inter-American Mutual Recognition Agreement on the Conformity Assessment Processes; 
  3. approval of an updated version of the Blue Book (a reference book produced in conjunction with the ITU and containing recommendations on telecommunications policies for CITEL Member States); 
  4. adoption of a recommendation that encourages CITEL Member States to declare the INTERNET a priority for providing all citizens with equal opportunity for accessing information and knowledge; 
  5. the development of guidelines and practices for Interconnection Regulations; 
  6. the adoption and submission to the ITU of common proposals for the World Radiocommunication Conference, the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly, the Plenipotentiary Conference and the World Telecommunication Development conference; 
  7. completion of a pilot project on tele-education; 
  8. initiation of a program for stimulating and facilitating the deployment of E-Commerce in Member States; 
  9. development and adoption of a framework of enhanced cooperation with other regional and international telecommunications organs; and 
  10. development of Coordinated Standards Documents in the areas of Intelligent Networks, Wireless Communications, and Signaling System Number 7.

Major Activities Foreseen for the year 2000

- Studies and recommendations on issues relating to IP networks;

- Presentation of common Inter-American Proposals to the ITU 2000 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly and the World Radiocommunication Conference;

- Holding the Third CITEL/PCC.I Telecommunications Forum on convergence of Public Telecommunication Network and IP network issues;

- Implementation of the Agreement on Mutual Recognition on Equipment Certification;

- Preparation of policy proposals and recommendations on the development and deployment of infrastructure for the information of the Americas, as an integral part of the globalization information society; and

-  Preparation of a report on Digital Sound Broadcasting System.

Full details are available on CITEL's homepage.

XXX OAS General Assembly

At the Thirtieth Regular Session of the General Assembly held on June 4-6, 2000 in Windsor, Canada, the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL) presented their Annual Report for 1999 which was previously approved by the Permanent Council. Governments adopted a resolution which encourages CITEL to continue to enhance its programs and activities for fulfilling the Santiago Summit mandates and urges all OAS member states to participate in the CITEL program of activities in relation to the Summit mandates.

The mandates and initiatives on hemispheric infrastructure were reinvigorated and fortified at the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.  For more information on these mandates, and to continue with follow up activities in this area, please click here.

Updated June 7, 2001