IDB News - First CEO Summit of the Americas Calls for Greater Economic Cooperation Among Western Hemisphere Nations

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Opportunities to deepen ties ranging from trade and investments to education and security.

CEO Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

“We need to bet on the future, and take infrastructure, products and services not only to the growing urban middle class, but also to isolated populations, to families that aspire to greater social mobility,” IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said.

The First CEO Summit of the Americas wrapped up today with calls for greater cooperation among Western Hemisphere nations on matters ranging from trade and investment to education, science and technology and security, in order to boost prosperity from Canada to Chile.

At the end of the conference, held ahead of the 6th Summit of the Americas, Presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Barack Obama of the United States participated in a roundtable discussion in front of an audience that included more than 700 top executives from many of the Western Hemisphere’s leading companies.

After praising the economic and social progress achieved by countries such as Brazil and Colombia over the past decade, Obama said there were many fields where countries in this hemisphere could collaborate fruitfully. “We’ve never felt more excited about prospects of working as equal partners with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he added.

Rousseff, whose nation recently overtook the United Kingdom as the world’s sixth biggest economy, also spoke in favor of closer cooperation, but stressed that alliances should be based on equality among allies. She called for greater integration of supply chains among countries in the Americas, most of which have to catch up to Asian and Eastern European countries that are well connected with global production systems. “We need to view this region as an area where you cannot have protectionism,” Rousseff added.

Santos, who called for closer coordination of economic policies to avoid the “export of crises,” proposed that the countries of the Americas should arrive with a common position to the G20 meeting due to be held in Mexico in June to discuss possible joint actions to head off another global recession.

The three heads of state also agreed on the importance of improving education and job training in their countries in order to improve people’s employment prospects. “If we were to ask our people what is their greatest concern, I am sure that the answer would be jobs,” Santos added.

Science and technology research and development was also seen as a fertile ground for collaboration in the Americas. Obama noted Brazil’s leadership in biofuels, adding that both countries should intensify their cooperation on developing clean energies.

The conversation among the American, Brazilian and Colombian presidents capped the two-day event organized by Colombia’s private sector with the endorsement of the Colombian government and technical support from the Inter-American Development Bank. During the CEO summit participants discussed opportunities to speed up economic growth and reduce poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean through public-private partnerships and deeper regional integration.

In his opening speech on Friday, Santos called on the private sector to contribute to inclusive economic growth. “Without business people prosperity will not come to the peoples of this continent,” Santos said. “But business also has a tremendous responsibility. You must do everything possible to improve social conditions. Fighting poverty is a great business proposition for everyone.”

In his presentation for the CEO summit, IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said that the Americas could double the value of their commerce within a decade if governments and the private sector undertake key investments. “This would have a tremendous impact on job creation,” Moreno said, “especially for the millions of young people who enter the job force each year.”’

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