White House Conference on Connecting the Americas: Part 2

Uploaded by whitehouse on 12.04.2012

John Negroponte: I had prepared an introduction for the
Secretary and I will use that in due course,
but in the first instance, let me congratulate both the White
House and our own counsel and all of those who have been
involved in the organization of this conference.
I think it's been an excellent idea.
I think we've had a wonderful day.
And starting with the note that was struck this morning about
the importance of the hemisphere to the United States,
it always sort of amazes me that we even have to remind
ourselves of this fact.
But as someone who spent about half of a 37-year foreign
service career serving in Latin America,
it's always been quite evident to me,
and I think that the importance of the hemisphere is only
growing in its importance to us.
If I look back when I first served in the hemisphere,
which was back in the 1970s, 1973, I went to Quito, Ecuador.
I'm delighted that the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy
of Ecuador is here with us today,
many of the countries in the hemisphere were -- are you here
with a message?
Dan Restrepo: This is always awkward.
John Negroponte: Oh, it's fine.
I think I can talk for ten minutes, Dan.
When I arrived in Ecuador in 1973, the country was --
-- so I've got about 40 years to go here --
-- the country was ruled by a military dictatorship.
And if you looked at the entire hemisphere that was fairly
characteristic of what you saw throughout,
particularly the continent of South America and in Central
America as well.
So I think while we sometimes feel a bit frustrated about the
problems associated with nation building,
with political development in specific individual countries,
if you just step back for a moment and look back at some
of the trends that have occurred, lo and behold, 25,
30 years later you see a democracy flourishing in our
part of the world and dictatorship and
authoritarianism are really the complete exception and not the
rule, witness the conference that the President is about to
go to which is being attended exclusively by democracies.
We would have had a very small conference of leaders of this
hemisphere indeed if we tried to organize a conference
exclusively consisting of democracies when I entered the
foreign service in 1961, '60.
So there has been tremendous progress.
I think the next step, and now we're really seeing this
happening in a big way in these recent years,
has been the interconnection and the integration of the
hemisphere with the global economy.
I personally was able to witness this in the country of Mexico
when Mexico joined the general agreement on tariff and trade in
the mid '80s and then embarked upon the NAFTA negotiations
with the United States in the early 1990s.
And I think as a consequence of the NAFTA we've seen a real
game-changing development in North America with levels of
trade tripling or quadrupling in these past 20 years.
And the integration of our manufacturing and processes has
achieved an extremely high level of success.
Canada even benefited enormously from the three-way North
American Free Trade agreement because I think before we had
that negotiation there wasn't that much interest in Mexico
on the part of the Canadians.
And so NAFTA ended up being sort of like an entry ticket to the
Canadians for becoming more knowledgeable and familiar with
Mexico and I think very much to their benefit.
Now, we did have 9/11.
And the preoccupation with security that occurred during
the ensuing years between 2001-2010.
And I think there was at that time more focus on security of
the border as opposed to the competitiveness
of North America.
But I think things have moved back in to some kind of
equilibrium with regard to both of those objectives,
so as much as we're committed, and Roberta Jacobson was just
talking about it, to dealing with the issues surrounding
security in our hemisphere and on our border,
I think there is also a lot more focus now on trying to make our
borders smarter and more competitive so that we can
really take advantage of that large global market
that is out there.
And I take great encouragement from the fact that, for example,
there are companies that had moved their manufacturing
operations from Mexico to China in recent years and we now see
a trend of those companies starting to come back to Mexico
because they consider the economy there now to be much
more competitive.
So things have been very positive in that area.
I think another new and important trend compared to when
I started my foreign service career is there is a lot more
attention being paid by the United States of America to
what's happening in South America.
Brazil, Chile, Argentina, for us were very remote concepts
a number of decades ago.
And I think one of the major developments has been the
tremendous strides that have been taken in deepening and
strengthening our relationship with the country of Brazil.
And we were talking earlier, mention was made of Dilma
Rousseff's visit here and her meeting with President Obama.
Chile is a great success story.
It's managed that transition from dictatorship to democracy
and has a free trade agreement with the United States.
The fact that we got finally the free trade agreement with
Colombia was a major development.
And I really have got to credit the Administration,
Ron Kirk and the others who were at the table earlier this
morning for the efforts, the successful efforts that they
made to obtain the ratification, the approval by our Congress of
those remaining pending FTAs, Colombia, Panama,
and South Korea.
And in fact, I wonder how easy it would be to stand up here and
talk about a policy towards this hemisphere if we had not gotten
those agreements ratified.
So I think that was a very, very positive development.
And then Mr. Pasquale in our breakout session pointed out
something that was very interesting,
and he said it again, the extraordinary contribution that
this hemisphere makes to our energy security.
The fact that 50% of our oil imports come
from this hemisphere.
And I think that probably opportunities in the future to
even increase that percentage, particularly if a country like
Brazil really comes on stream with, I think, Carlos,
you were saying four to six million barrels a day at some
time in the future.
Now I know this is a Latino community and we're concerned
about what happens south of our border and the large and
important Hispanic community here in the United States,
but I would like to also put in a modest plug for our
relationship with Canada.
It's a part of the hemisphere.
We now treat it in the State Department as if it were part of
the hemisphere.
When I joined the foreign service Canada was in the
Bureau of European Affairs.
Go figure.
But I think we really have got to say we have no stronger ally
than the country of Canada going back for decades.
We cooperate with that country on every manner of subject,
whether it's economic, political, security.
They're members of NATO.
We have, as has been pointed out frequently,
and I think sometimes conflated, I think we talked about trade
with Latin America when I think figures from Canada were being
included this morning in some of the spectacular
figures that were cited.
Canada is our largest trading partner.
And I think we have no better friend than Canada.
They fought side by side with us in a couple of World Wars.
They have been fighting alongside of us in Afghanistan.
And I don't think we have any more reliable friend.
And I think they also share, and I think this is very important,
the United States' commitment to this hemisphere,
to the well-being and prosperity of Latin America
and the Caribbean.
Canada has had a long record of assisting the Caribbean
countries throughout its history and has strong affinities there.
Dan, I have about exhausted my repertoire.
I don't know where you are.
But I think perhaps I'd take some questions from anybody in
the audience.
-- if anybody would -- yes, sir.
Audience Member: Can you comment on the penetration of
Iran in Latin America.
John Negroponte: Okay, here we go.
I have -- thank you for the one question that I'm going to
answer this afternoon.
The penetration of Iran in the western hemisphere.
When I was Director of National Intelligence,
I paid a certain amount of attention to this.
I think maybe Hezbollah in particular,
which is a political group supported by the Iranians,
has used access that it has in this hemisphere,
perhaps through some of the Lebanese-American communities
and so forth, to raise money.
I've never been particularly concerned about any kind of
military or terrorist threat.
Although you do have to wonder what, you know,
one flight a day from Tehran to Caracas is doing and
what it's accomplishing.
But again I have seen it more as a fund raising kind of thing.
And something that I have not given too much concern to.
I think I better go greet the Secretary and
I'll be right back.
I'll be back to do what I thought I was going
to do this afternoon!
Since taking office as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
has made 30 visits to 18 countries in the western
hemisphere. I hope I have that number right. A testament to
how hard she has worked to enhance our engagment with
a region so vital to United States interests.
She has strengthened regional cooperation on all the summit
issues -- areas listed on our agenda today.
From multilateral partnerships on citizen security,
to high level dialogues on economics and energy.
On the promotion of hemispheric trade, Secretary Clinton
deserves much credit for helping forge broad bipartisan support
in Congress for the free trade agreements with
Columbia and Panama.
Following implementation of those two pacts,
the United States will be able to boast an unbroken chain of
economic integration. That literally connects the Americas
from Canada to Chile.
I would also like to thank Secretary Clinton for her
participation during the last 3 years, at the annual
Washington Conference on the Americas, which the Council of
the Americas cohosts with the State Deparment Bureau of
Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Madame Secretary this year's conference will take
place on May 8th.
And we are hopeful, that you will be in town that day.
Thereby permitting you to address our
conference once again.
As former Deputy Secretary of State, I know it is only
an elevator ride down, from my old office down to
the conference site.
There will be certainly much to discuss, from this week's
visit to Washington by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.
To this week's Summit of the Americas in Cartegena.
Following the summit Secretary Clinton will travel to Brazil
to follow up on these important conversations.
As she remarked at our conference last May.
There is power in our proximity, not only our geographic
proximity to our friends in the hemisphere.
But also the proximity of our economic interests, our values,
our culture, and the challenges that we share.
I look forward to hearing the Secretary's vision for
building on these connections.
Ladies and gentlemen please join me in welcoming
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Secretary Clinton: Thank you all, thank you.
Thank you.
I am delighted to have a chance to address you today.
I know you've had a busy and active set of encounters
and discussions.
But it is a special treat for me to be here.
I thank you, John, for that introduction,
because you and many in this audience have held fast to a
vision of partnership in the Americas even when some people
may have had a hard time seeing it or understanding it,
because it is so important that we keep our eyes on the horizon
about what is possible and continue to work
toward achieving it.
It was that potential which inspired 18 years ago the very
first Summit of the Americas.
I remember it very well when my husband announced
in this building --
somewhere but not in this brand new conference center --
that the United States would host the first-ever gathering of
democratically elected leaders from throughout
the Western Hemisphere.
He talked then about our "unique opportunity to build a community
of free nations, diverse in culture and history,
but bound together by a commitment to responsive and
free government, vibrant civil societies, open economies,
and rising living standards for all of our people."
Well, that opportunity that was spoken about 18 years ago has
really been born into reality.
The people and the societies of the Americas have done
so much to realize it.
And that may be exemplified by the place where President Obama
and I will head tomorrow for the sixth Summit of the Americas.
I think that if we look back on the work we have done through
the last years to support Colombia,
it's quite remarkable where Colombia stands today.
Now, first and foremost, of course,
the credit goes to the heroic effort of Colombia's
people and government, but it's had
steadfast U.S. support.
And so leaders from the entire hemisphere will gather in
Cartagena with an agenda focused not on how we overcome a threat,
but how we seize a unique opportunity.
As much as our hemisphere has changed,
it is not alone in that experience.
The world has changed so much, and we have to do a very honest
assessment about where the United States stands in our
efforts to realize the potential of these partnerships.
Before President Obama traveled to Brazil, Chile,
and El Salvador last year, I did address the issue of what
I called "the power of proximity" because the Americas
drive our prosperity.
They buy more than 40% of our exports --
three times as much as China.
They provide more than half our imported energy.
They are home to a growing number of global players with a
central role in building new architectures of cooperation
that defend our interests and our values.
Their record of democratic development has global resonance
at a time when democratic models and partners are
needed more than ever.
And our historic and deepening interdependence gives the
Americas a singular importance to our people, our culture,
and our society.
So harnessing that power of proximity is one of the most
strategically significant tasks facing our foreign policy
in the years ahead.
I think the same can be true for our neighbors,
because the power of proximity runs in both directions,
and we together must harness it.
We must turn the Americans, already a community of shared
history, geography, culture, and values,
into something greater --
a shared platform for global success.
That has been the principle behind the Obama
Administration's focus on building equal partnerships,
and it will be the message that the President
takes to the Summit.
We will look to translate our strategic vision
into concrete steps.
As our Colombian hosts have shown,
those steps must be all about building connections among our
governments, our businesses, our markets,
our educational institutions, our societies and citizens.
Now, when we think about connecting the Americas,
we start with our shared agenda for competitiveness
and innovation.
After all, this hemisphere is home not just to the
United States' biggest trading partners,
but also to the dynamic emerging economies.
Brazil and Mexico are projected to become top-five global
economies in coming decades.
Countries like Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay,
Panama have found recipes for strong growth.
That has major implications for jobs right here.
U.S. exports in
this hemisphere were up 24% last year.
President Obama set a goal of doubling exports in five years
and we are well on the way to doing that.
But what it means for Latin America and the new middle class
is that half of all households are now in the middle class.
That number could grow to three-quarters within 20 years.
Our free trade agreements and economic diplomacy capitalize on
this two-way market.
Thanks to the FTAs we ratified last year with Colombia and
Panama, as John said, our trade partnerships run uninterrupted
from the Arctic to Patagonia.
We have signed a slew of agreements on economic
cooperation and investment with Brazil and others.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership that we are negotiating
includes Chile and Peru.
It's also received strong interest from Canada and Mexico.
What's notable is not just the scale,
but the makeup of hemispheric trade.
It consists of value-added products that create jobs and
drive innovation.
Production and design span borders, like the LearJet,
which a Canadian company builds in the United States with
Mexican-manufactured parts.
This is high-quality trade, and high-quality trade means
competitiveness for all of our companies.
Now, that's good, but it's not good enough.
For when we compare ourselves to the most dynamic global regions,
we still have a ways to go.
The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that hemispheric
trade is only half of what it could and should be.
There are still too many barriers,
whether uncoordinated regulations or inadequate
infrastructure, that limit our potential.
And in the face of rising competition,
especially from Asia, we have to up our game.
That should begin with building new,
more productive ties among entrepreneurs, companies,
and markets.
In Cartagena, we're joining with business leaders to create a
sustained private sector effort that will coordinate with and
complement the work of governments.
We're intensifying our focus on small- and medium-sized
enterprises, especially those started and run by women.
They account, after all, for 90% of Latin American businesses
and two-thirds of Latin American jobs,
yet they have little access to the tools, financing,
and partnerships that could help them thrive.
In the United States just 1% of small and medium-sized
enterprises access global markets.
So by building links among these businesses,
we can turn them into engines of job growth and prosperity.
We also have to do better when it comes to the technology that
makes connectivity possible.
This hemisphere's young people have embraced technology and
new media in huge numbers.
But their ambitions have not been matched by the
infrastructure and access that can drive real progress.
Broadband costs more than three times more in Latin America than
the OECD average.
That's a serious drag on development.
So we're going to try to leverage technology to
enhance opportunity.
And as you look at innovation, we need to consider it in the
long-term, and that means the hemisphere has to do more to
provide better financing, deeper ties between scientists
and institutions.
We require more private initiatives like the
announcements from Boeing and GE that they will establish
research and technology centers in Brazil.
We have to empower all of our citizens to take advantage of
the new economy.
That brings me to the second area where we need to connect
more: education.
America's record in education is really commendable,
but our record in exchanges in education throughout the
hemisphere leaves a lot to be desired.
We need to leverage the skills of young people.
Building those connections will be key to that.
When President Rousseff met with President Obama earlier this
week, they advanced our joint commitment to educational
exchanges under our 100,000 Strong in the Americas and
Brazil's Science Without Borders.
These are initiatives that will send thousands of students to
train in universities in one another's countries throughout
the hemisphere.
Now businesses have to do their part because they have to help
us develop the skilled workforce that we seek and we will try to
build those private sector partnerships in Cartagena.
We'll also build connections in a third area: energy.
Now, massive oil finds are being developed in Brazil while
countries like Colombia and Canada are expanding production.
And new methods have unlocked natural gas everywhere from the
United States to Argentina.
Smaller countries like Trinidad and Tobago are gas
refiners and providers.
And the progress is as striking in green energy,
whether it's Mexican advances in energy efficiency,
Chilean innovations in geothermal,
or the work on bio-fuels we're doing with Brazil.
We've made energy a priority of our foreign policy and in
February I signed a historic trans-boundary oil agreement
with Mexico.
We started high-level energy dialogues with producers.
And just this week, President Obama and President Rousseff
agreed to collaborate on deep water oil and gas operations.
Under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas,
launched by President Obama at the Summit of the Americas in
2009, we have leveraged already more than $150 million in
government investment to support more than 40 initiatives.
There's no doubt the Western Hemisphere is capable of
producing cleaner, cheaper, more reliable energy to support
growth here and globally, but in order to do that,
we have to build a truly hemispheric network of our
energy sectors.
Connected markets would bring economies of scale,
stable supplies, efficiency, and more use of renewables.
That work we will also launch in Cartagena.
And we will do what we can to help create a future of
sustainable, affordable energy for all in the Americas.
Now progress within the hemisphere gives the Americas a
new global profile.
When I talk with foreign ministers --
I've just finished the G8 ministers meeting here in
Washington --
whether I'm talking climate change or global growth and
trade or nonproliferation, U.S.-Latin America relationships
really matter to these global issues.
Peru and Chile have become key partners in the Pacific.
Colombia is leading on citizen security globally and,
with Guatemala, is one of our closest current partners
on the Security Council.
Uruguay contributes the most per capita to peacekeeping of any
nation in the world.
Costa Rica aims to become the first carbon-neutral country.
Canada is one of our most important allies in diplomatic
and security efforts.
And nearly every country in the hemisphere stepped up
to support Haiti.
This global activism carries tremendous strategic benefits.
And at the summit, it is time to add an outward looking dimension
to our connections, because our global engagements will be
crucial to our success in the hemisphere.
Now being global partners, I will hasten to say,
does not mean we'll always agree; that's not the case.
But it reflects a faith that even when we disagree,
convergent interests and values give us important shared
objectives in the world.
Now President Obama and I have said many times that this will
be America's Pacific century, and we are focused on the
broader Pacific.
But remember, the Pacific runs from the Indian Ocean to the
western shores of Latin America.
We see this as one large area for our strategic focus.
That's why we're working with APEC;
that's why we're creating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
We recognize the mutual benefits of engagement between the
Americas and the rest of the Pacific.
Our global partnership also extends into the G20,
which includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico,
which will host the next meeting in June.
And Mexico has been a leader in the climate change negotiations
from Copenhagen to Cancun to Durban.
Chile has joined Mexico to become the second Latin American
member of the OECD and others are lined up to follow.
When I go to Brasilia next week, my conversations there will
center on the major challenges of our day from Syria and Iran
to growth and development.
And I will join President Rousseff to co-chair a meeting
of the Open Government Partnership,
a joint effort to foster transparency and accountability
among 54 governments, and a quarter of them are from Latin
America and the Caribbean.
So we have an affirmative agenda that is forward-thinking
and outward-looking.
It reflects what we can do together in this hemisphere.
But at the same time, we must be clear about where we
can and should do better.
We cannot afford to be complacent.
So we have to commit to further progress against exclusion and
lack of opportunity.
Yes, the region has come a long way,
thanks to a lot of smart social and economic policies.
I applaud the work that has been done on many of the quite
pioneering programs of conditional cash transfer and so
much else. But the gap -- the inequality gap --
is still much too large.
So we have to focus on economic policies that
will close that gap.
And we have to pay particular attention to women and
indigenous and Afro-Latin communities, so that they, too,
are part of the future we envision.
We have to protect democracy.
It's no accident that this hemisphere's successes have come
along with a nearly complete embrace of democracies.
The Inter-American Democratic Charter enshrines democracy as
a fundamental responsibility of governments and a
right of all citizens.
So we have to strengthen the capacity of the Organization of
American States to defend democracy and human rights.
And of course, we have to address crime and insecurity.
From the start of this Administration,
we've have made it clear that the United States accepts our
share of responsibility for the criminal violence that stalks
our neighbors to the south.
We tripled funding for demand reduction for illegal drugs to
more than $10 billion a year.
We strengthened the Merida Initiative in Mexico,
the Central American Citizen Security Partnership,
the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative,
our ongoing assistance to Colombia.
And our support is focused not just on helping security forces
track down criminals; we're working to address the root
causes of violence, from impunity to lack of opportunity,
to build accountable institutions that respect
human rights and enhance the rule of law.
Courts and prisons, police and prosecutors,
schools and job-training centers,
and building those partnerships with political leaders,
but also with businesses and with the elite,
who have a special obligation to help confront these challenges.
I really applaud the progress that President Perez Molina has
made in Guatemala, in just the first few months of his tenure,
in tax reform.
The fact that so many of the wealthy in Latin America have
not paid their fair share of taxes is one of the reasons why
the services that are necessary to protect citizen security,
to enhance educational opportunities have
not been available.
I understand the frustration in the region is high;
the progress is viewed as being too slow.
We have launched very open and frank dialogues with our
partners to find ways that we can be of more assistance in
supporting the reform efforts that are necessary.
But ultimately, a lot of this comes down to the connections
between people.
We have to be willing to do everything we can imagine to
forge those connections.
We have a lot of them already:
blood and family, language and culture, history and geography,
but there's a lot more we can and must do.
And we should act even when governments are not willing
to partner with us.
In Cuba, for example, the hundreds of thousands of Cuban
Americans who have travelled to the island since we eased the
way for them early in this Administration are our best
agents for change.
They've already helped bring about some promising
developments, especially in the economic arena.
So we have to work to unleash the potential that we
see in our hemisphere.
And it truly is an exciting opportunity for the United
States and equally for all the nations of the hemisphere.
When President Obama and I went to that first of his summits
three years ago, it was exciting because I remembered the first
summit that we had in Miami.
I'm old enough to remember a lot of those things these days.
And I remember the generational look of that summit
when, frankly, my husband was about the youngest leader,
as I recall, or looked like it anyway.
Whereas now, there are young leaders with new ideas
who are working hard on behalf of their country.
There are women elected president,
something which you know I think is a great advance.
(laughter and applause)
And so the whole picture is one of great promise
and opportunity and excitement, so I know that both
the President and I are excited about going
back to the summit.
We're sure there'll be some surprises,
as there always are at such large events.
But more than that, there will be a palpable sense of the
connections between and among us.
And to me, that is worth everything --
to build on those connections, to connect us in a way that
really provides what we are all seeking,
to help people live up to their God-given potential,
to enshrine the values and habits of democracy,
to lift people who have a generation or so before been
mired in illiteracy and poverty into the middle class.
It doesn't get any better than that.
This is the time for the Americas.
And we have to do more to reach out to convince our own fellow
Americans of that opportunity, and we have to --
those of us in government or in academia or business or NGOs --
be partners in making these connections real.
I'm looking forward to the work ahead,
and I thank you so much for your interest in the abiding
partnerships here in our hemisphere.
Thank you very much.