For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 13, 2004
Fact Sheet: U.S. Accomplishments at the Special Summit of the Americas
"Two Years Ago in This City, World Leaders Formed the Monterrey Consensus. We pledged to work for government that is responsive to the basic needs of every human being...and for policies that promote opportunity for all...To realize our common vision, we must set goals that are specific and measurable. In doing so, we will affirm our determination to succeed and give hope to millions. Together we will implement the Monterrey Consensus, lift all of our nations, and show the world that free societies and free markets can deliver real benefits for all of our citizens."
President George W. Bush
January 12, 2004
President Bush came to the Summit to urge Leaders to strengthen the foundations for democracy and economic growth in the hemisphere by taking action to promote democracy and good governance, to spur private sector-led growth and reduce poverty, and to improve health and education.
To intensify the fight against corruption, Leaders agreed to: Strengthen a "culture of transparency" in the Americas; Deny safe haven to corrupt officials; Promote transparency in public financial management; and Hold consultations if adherence to their transparency and anti-corruption objectives is "compromised to a serious degree" in any Summit country.
To spur growth and reduce poverty, Leaders agreed to: Reduce significantly the time and cost of starting a business by the next Summit in 2005; Endorse the Inter-American Development Bank's goal of tripling the credit it provides for small and medium-sized businesses by 2007; Cut by at least half the cost of sending remittances by 2008; Strengthen property rights by the next Summit in 2005; and Reaffirm support for completing the Free Trade Area of the Americas on schedule, by January 2005.
To improve health and education, Leaders agreed to: Provide HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy to all who need it, with a focus on treating at least 600,000 individuals by 2005; and Improve the quality of education by publishing school system performance reports by the 2005 Summit.
Anticorruption and Transparency: The World Bank has identified corruption as "the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development," cutting growth rates by 0.5 to 1 percent annually. Recognizing that transparency is an essential element of well-functioning democracies and market economies, the Leaders, at U.S. urging, committed to: Strengthen a "culture of transparency" in the Americas; "Deny safe haven to corrupt officials, those who corrupt them, and their assets"; and Promote transparency in "public financial management, in government transactions and procurement processes and contracts."
In a significant step, Summit Leaders agreed to hold consultations if adherence to their shared transparency and anticorruption objectives, as articulated in the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, is "compromised to a serious degree" in any of the Summit countries. Reflecting the fact that transparency is integral to democracy, this new commitment parallels an existing commitment to hold consultations in the event of a breakdown of the democratic process in any Summit country.
Today's commitments advance President Bush's efforts to implement a robust international transparency and anticorruption agenda. Specifically, he has: Signed a Presidential Proclamation to bar corrupt officials from entering the United States; Agreed to return to Peru over $20 million that had been hidden in the United States by former Peruvian intelligence chief Montesinos and his associates. Montesinos is now serving a jail sentence in Peru for his crimes, including corruption; Approved assistance for a pilot project in Nicaragua to strengthen its law enforcement capacity and promote civil society involvement in anti-corruption efforts; Conditioned Millennium Challenge Account eligibility on a demonstrated commitment to fight corruption; and Obtained strong transparency and anti-corruption commitments at last year's G-8 and APEC Summits.
SPURRING PRIVATE SECTOR-LED GROWTH
Reducing the time and cost of starting a business: Starting a business in the Western Hemisphere takes longer than in any region in the world. Recognizing that small and medium-sized businesses are the primary engines of economic growth and job creation, at U.S. urging, Leaders agreed to "reduce significantly" the time and cost of starting a business by the next Summit of the Americas in 2005.
Increasing access to credit for small and medium-sized businesses: Lack of credit is a serious obstacle to business formation and growth. The Leaders supported the Inter-American Development Bank's goal of tripling the credit it provides for small and medium-sized businesses through local banking systems by 2007.
Lowering the cost of remittances: Remittances, the money sent by migrants to their families and friends living abroad, have tripled in the last six years and totaled more than $32 billion in the Western Hemisphere in 2002 -- more than four times official development assistance flows to the region. Yet, the region is losing approximately $4 billion a year due to high remittance transfer fees, averaging 12.5 percent. Leaders committed to creating the conditions to cut by at least half the cost of remittance transfers by 2008.
Securing Property Rights: A fair and well functioning property rights system is the foundation for a market economy. Currently, approximately half of all property in some of the region's countries is not officially recorded. Leaders agreed to: Ensure "enforceable, efficient, transparent, comprehensive and equitable rules governing property contracts;" Improve or promote policies and regulations governing "the transfer of property, property registries, the use of property as collateral, and the rights and responsibilities of debtors and creditors;" and Take "concrete actions" regarding these measures by the next Summit of the Americas in Argentina in 2005.
Promoting Financial Stability: Leaders committed to continue working to promote macroeconomic stability and reduce financial vulnerability. They noted with satisfaction efforts to explore financial instruments, such as growth-indexed bonds, which can minimize the vulnerability of developing countries to economic shocks and downturns. Growth-indexed bonds would allow governments to pay smaller amounts of interest if growth is below expectations and would pay more when growth is exceeding expectations.
Expanding Trade: President Bush and the other Leaders welcomed recent progress made on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the November, 2003 FTAA Ministerial in Miami, endorsed the Miami framework, and reaffirmed the agreed timetable of completing negotiations by January 2005. The FTAA will establish the world's largest free trade area -- with 34 countries, almost 800 million consumers, and a $13 trillion GDP. The Leaders also reaffirmed their shared interest in advancing the World Trade Organization's Doha negotiations.
The President's goal for free and fair trade throughout the hemisphere is reinforced by complementary bilateral and subregional free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations: Our free trade agreement with Chile entered into force on January 1, 2004. The Administration recently concluded FTA negotiations with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and is working to complete agreement with Costa Rica. This past fall, the Administration announced its intent to begin FTA negotiations with the Dominican Republic,
IMPROVING HEALTH AND EDUCATION
HIV/AIDS: More than two million people are now living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the estimated 200,000 that contracted HIV in the past year. The Leaders agreed to intensify prevention, care and treatment programs and committed to provide antiretroviral therapy to all who need it, with a focus on treating at least 600,000 individuals by 2005.
Education: Leaders agreed on the urgent need to reform school systems in Latin America. Almost half of the students in the region who enter primary school fail to reach fifth grade, and only about 30 percent finish secondary school. On international achievement tests, the best school systems in the region fall in the bottom quartile.