The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 24, 2008

Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas

     Fact sheet In Focus: Global Diplomacy

1. We, the Heads of Government and representatives for Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the United States, met in New York on September 24, 2008, to take stock of the significant progress we have made in our hemisphere through shared commitments to trade and investment liberalization, social inclusion, development, rule of law, and democracy. We noted that we have each taken steps to conclude and bring into force comprehensive and high-quality free trade agreements that have contributed significantly to reducing poverty, opening our economies, and strengthening our democracies.

2. Our discussion today focused on our region's ability to achieve and sustain broad-based economic growth and development. We recognized that our region has experienced significant progress in the last few years by implementing public policies that promote growth and social development. We acknowledged that macro-economic stability and trade liberalization are important tools in the fight against poverty, noted existing challenges to economic growth, and affirmed that certain sectors of our populations should benefit more fully from open markets and free trade. We support further efforts to advance social justice and welfare in the hemisphere.

3. We underscored the importance of comprehensive free trade agreements in advancing liberalized trade and investment regimes, thereby providing new economic opportunities for all in our societies, including workers, businesspeople, and agricultural communities. We affirmed our commitment to conclude an ambitious agreement in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, to the long-term goals of free trade in the hemisphere and a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and to continue to pursue other efforts to promote economic integration in the hemisphere, including through the Summit of the Americas process, the Latin America Pacific Arc Initiative, the Central American Economic Integration process, and the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership. At the same time, we are supportive of bilateral efforts to approve and implement comprehensive, high-standard free trade agreements that promote and extend free trade, including the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and others we are currently negotiating or in the process of approving. We applaud Costa Rica's efforts to complete the steps necessary for entry into force of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible.

4. We also recognize that, to fully realize the benefits of trade liberalization and open markets, we must promote, integrate, and advance all aspects of our hemispheric economic and development agenda. We support increased efforts to deepen our partnership and cooperation to ensure that the benefits of free trade and open investment are more broadly shared throughout our societies.

5. To achieve this goal, complement economic cooperation and integration initiatives, and promote convergence of free trade efforts, we will work jointly to: (1) increase opportunities for our citizens, particularly small businesses and farmers, to take advantage of trade through trade capacity building and other initiatives; (2) promote and deepen an open architecture for regional trade consistent with the global trading system; (3) expand regional cooperation on economic development and competitiveness; (4) enhance cooperation and exchange best practices on labor and environmental standards and enforcement; and (5) engage the private sector and civil society to advance these objectives, including through promotion of public-private partnerships.

6. This initiative is open to all countries, as participants or observers, in the Western Hemisphere that share our commitment to democracy, open markets and free trade.

7. We plan to meet at the ministerial level before the end of this year and regularly thereafter to develop an agenda to advance these objectives and determine next steps. We also look forward to reconvening in 2009 to review the progress made by our ministers.

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