U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: Latin America Bureau

95/06/02 Fact Sheet: Summit of the Americas Implementation Activities

Summit of the Americas Implementation Activities

The following examples represent only a small fraction of activities undertaken to implement the Summit of the Americas Plan of Action, but indicate the scope and importance of this work. The broader range of other activities are similarly diverse--from the response to Mexico's financial crisis that showed the spirit of the Miami summit at its finest to the contract Colombia signed with a private Swiss company to ensure transparency and fairness in multimillion-dollar defense-related purchases--and reflect our shared values and common hemispheric interests.

Promoting Open Markets and Prosperity

U.S. exports generate a major portion of U.S. jobs, and the combined markets of countries of the hemisphere are the largest market for U.S. exports. Free trade, liberalized trading regimes, and integrated, transparent, and sound financial markets in the Americas are thus important not only to the future prosperity of other countries in the hemisphere, but to the creation and maintenance of jobs in the United States.

Free Trade and Liberalized Trade Regimes. Trade ministers in the hemisphere have taken up the challenge, set forth at the summit, of negotiating a "Free Trade Area of the Americas" by 2005. Trade ministers will hold two ministerials in the next 10 months to define next steps toward this goal. The first ministerial will be in Denver on June 30. The OAS Special Committee on Trade is completing a compendium of regional trade agreements for this ministerial.

Immediately following the Denver ministerial, the Trade and Commerce Forum will meet. This forum is a cooperative public and private effort that will greatly expand international economic opportunities in the hemisphere.

In addition to these hemisphere-wide efforts, several bilateral and individual country actions are contributing to the strengthening of free trade in the hemisphere:

-- The Customs Union of MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) has come into effect, and MERCOSUR has initiated discussions with the Andean Group and Chile with a view to establishing free trade zones; -- The Dominican Republic has ratified the Final Act of the Uruguay Round; -- Guatemala has submitted the Final Act to its Congress for ratification; -- Colombia has joined the World Trade Organization; and -- Mexico has initiated free trade agreements with Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Colombia and Venezuela.

Financial Markets. The Committee on Hemispheric Financial Issues, which will promote integrated, transparent, and sound financial markets, should be operational by this summer.

International Narcotics Control

The draft of a counternarcotics strategy for the 21st century, which addresses illicit narcotics production, demand reduction, and interdiction, already has support from more than half of the countries of the hemisphere. Among other counter-narcotics initiatives and actions:

-- The United States plans to increase its drug-control budget to almost $15 billion, more than 36% of which will be spent to reduce the demand for illegal drugs. -- The United States and Brazil signed an Agreement on Mutual Cooperation on Narcotic Drugs to exchange counternarcotics information and to work toward taking action to counter money laundering.

Combating Crime and Corruption

On the multilateral level, several initiatives are underway to fight crime and corruption in the hemisphere. For example:

-- Hemisphere financial experts met in April to draft a strategy against money laundering. A second meeting is planned for June, and a new hemispheric response will be issued at a ministerial meeting this autumn. -- Venezuela has proposed an Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, which is now under consideration in the OAS. -- The OAS and the OECD have established contacts with each other aimed at combating bribery and other forms of corruption in international business transactions. -- The OAS Working Group on Terrorism is planning a conference for early 1996 to coordinate efforts to combat terrorism.

Sustainable Development

Notably, protection of the environment was included in the Plan of Action blueprint for economic growth.

Central America has taken an important leadership role in establishing the Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASD). The main focus of the ASD is to reorient the Central American agenda from conflict resolution and crisis management to long-term institutionalization of democracy, sustainable economic growth, and concern for the environment. The United States is supporting the alliance with $5 million, part of the U.S. Agency for International Development's $22.6-million Environmental Initiative for the Americas.

Other specific environmental activities include:

-- A global conference on lead pollution held in March 1995. Several countries have now developed plans to eliminate lead from gasoline used in their countries. -- Ecuador is preparing new protective legislation for the biologically unique environment of the Galapagos Islands. -- An international program was set up in April 1995 to reduce the threat from old pesticide storage sites in Honduras.

Revitalization of the Inter-American System

In Miami, the leaders determined to reinvent existing hemispheric institutions to revitalize the Inter-American System. This effort is well underway:

-- The OAS, now under the dynamic leadership of Cesar Gaviria, is reinventing itself in response to summit mandates and the dictates of its own charter. -- The Secretary General's proposed budget for the OAS for 1996 contains significant increases for democracy and human rights. The United States has made a voluntary $1-million contribution to the democracy unit. -- The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is committed to increasing lending in education and health--two summit priorities--by several billion dollars over the next five years. -- The IDB is taking a direct role in supporting private sector initiatives through its new private sector lending window and the use of guarantees to encourage private sector financing of infrastructure projects. -- The Pan American Health Organization has launched a program to eradicate measles throughout the hemisphere.

June 2, 1995


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