Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke led the U.S. delegation to the Third Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) on September 27-29 in Santiago, Chile. Presidents Michelle Bachelet of Chile and Alvaro Colom of Guatemala were in attendance, along with representatives from the governments of 27 countries and over 600 participants from the public and private sectors.
The ACF brings together representatives from the public and private sectors to discuss ways to spark innovation, create jobs, and expand trade among the countries of the Western Hemisphere. This year’s ACF focused on energy and the environment, financing in times of crisis, increasing the value of supply chains, entrepreneurship, and workforce development.
On September 29, at the ACF, ministers announced the launch of the Americas Competitiveness Network, an initiative proposed by the Government of Chile and the Organization of American States. The Councils of Competitiveness, groups which are dedicated to enhancing competitiveness within their respective countries, will take a leading role in developing this Network. The ministers urged all public institutions, public-private partnerships, and international organizations responsible for developing competitiveness strategies in the Hemisphere to join this initiative.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig Kelly and U.S. Ambassador to Chile Paul Simons represented the Department of State for the U.S. delegation, which also included representatives from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Department of Treasury, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Small Business Administration. Delegations from Georgia, California, Mississippi, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico traveled to Santiago, providing strong U.S. representation at the sub-federal level.
The U.S. Government announced the Americas Competitiveness Forum at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in 2005, and all 34 democratically elected leaders endorsed it at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in April 2009 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Previous ACFs were held in Atlanta in 2007 and 2008.
Secretary Locke and Atlanta’s Mayor Shirley Franklin announced that the Fourth ACF would be held in Atlanta in 2010.