Good morning, everybody. And John Hamre, thank you for that generous introduction. We did meet about 35 years ago, when I was working for the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in the House of Representatives. And every morning, he’d say, “Call Hamre, call Hamre, we have a problem…”—John was the Comptroller of the Pentagon then—and we’re still calling John Hamre. So you’re an institution, and thank you so much.

Let me recognize again, Anne Neuberger, our Deputy National Security Advisor, and our two ambassadors who are here. Ambassadors who are building the relationship between our two countries in such an incredible way.

My colleague, Nate Fick, who is doing an incredible job leading our new Bureau on Cybersecurity and Digital Policy.

But most all, let me offer my sincere gratitude to the President for being here: our distinguished guest, our extraordinary partner, and a critical leader for Costa Rica and for our hemisphere.

And it really was an honor to join you in the meeting with President Biden yesterday in the Oval Office and to see the bond and the friendship that the two of you have and that our two countries have:

Our fidelity to democracy and respect for human rights. Our dedication to open societies and open markets. Our commitment to innovation in our economies and our cooperation across the board in so many areas. It was a terrific meeting.

There is so much that defines the ties between the United States and Costa Rica; so much that touches on the building blocks of stability and security: economic development, public safety, migration, and yes, cybersecurity. So let me touch briefly on these, and I will speak quickly so you can hear from our group.

Let me start with economics. Our trade relationship is deep and robust—totaling over $17 billion in goods moving between our markets last year alone. The U.S. accounts for nearly three-quarters of foreign direct investment heading into Costa Rica, and U.S. companies have helped create nearly 130,000 jobs there.

Meanwhile, exports from Costa Rica coming in our direction, especially in medical devices and semiconductors, are helping fuel our post-COVID economic recovery.

And those bonds are only growing, as we work to secure regional and global supply chains; combat corruption; engage in the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity; and collaborate even further in the technology space.

But steady economic growth rests on the cornerstone of our common security and public safety—a pillar that we reinforce every day.

And to give one example: Costa Rica is an energetic partner in the State Department-led Sembremos Seguridad program, which brings government and communities together to identify social risks and prevent activities targeting the most vulnerable, high-crime areas in the country.

This is part of an ongoing drive to improve citizen security in Costa Rica, and that push is intensifying too, through our efforts to counter narcotics trafficking, to stop organized criminal networks from undermining the strong institutions that set Costa Rica apart.

Our deep cooperation on the fundamentals of a healthy society gives us the wherewithal to take on the toughest tasks before us. And today, that includes irregular migration and displacement; the record-breaking movement of people throughout our hemisphere; and how we better facilitate safe, orderly, and humane migration.

And we’re grateful to the leadership of the President and the Costa Rican government for standing up the Security Mobility Offices, which is a new initiative to create lawful pathways to the country. And again, on this front, let me give credit where credit’s due. Costa Rica has set the standard for leadership in supporting refugees and ensuring their access to protection—many embarking on a treacherous journey; many fleeing persecution and fear.

Finally, our countries are in lockstep on the main topic of today’s event and the core focus of tomorrow’s generation: cybersecurity. The intersection between democracy and the digital sphere. The explosion of the emerging technologies reshaping the way we communicate and learn, collaborate and lead, participate in our politics and govern our people.

The United States and Costa Rica appreciate the immense power of this space—but also the potential pitfalls too.

We know that sound and secure connectivity, a strong and growing advanced manufacturing sector, cyber, digital, and tech talent and infrastructure are all key components of modern economies and a modern society.

We see how Costa Rica has started to build out its 5G telecommunications service and established itself as a regional high-tech leader, with, for example, Intel’s only semiconductor assembly operation in the Americas; with thousands of jobs supported by Amazon and Bayer and so many other companies; with a flourishing medical device manufacturing hub.

We share an affirmative vision for the role of trusted and secure technology—technology for good. And we are clear-eyed about the need for vigilance; for capacity-building related to incident response; for critical infrastructure protection; for the development of the cyber workforce; for identifying trusted tech suppliers.

Indeed, even with so much hope in emerging innovations, we recognize the drawbacks. We recognize the rising risk and frequency of cyberattacks—the uncertainties surrounding technologies and platforms that are constantly developing, shifting, changing, evolving.

And our job, as public officials, is to do everything possible to ensure that the accelerating pace of digital progress expands pathways to innovation without escalating the possibilities of danger. That cyberspace remains an avenue to empower citizens and connect communities, not incite violence, sow division, or foment fear. That the digital ecosystem is a secure, resilient, and rights-respecting venue for pursuing our highest aspirations.

And Costa Rica is already ahead of the curve on all these issues. You are among our closest collaborators in a series of coalitions and initiatives designed to protect access and to protect and promote human rights.

And we are proud to stand with you, Mr. President, and with Costa Rica’s government and people in tackling the vast challenges that come with such giant leaps in the cyber and digital revolution.

So doing this work is so critically important, and that’s why we have delivered on a $25 million package to further build Costa Rica’s digital defense capabilities in the face of malicious cyber activity, as well as partnering in so many other areas, which I know the group will talk about today.

Doing this work—supporting cyber and digital resiliency within our countries and among our partners—is an increasingly vital element of the United States’ foreign assistance portfolio.

These investments are critical to the security of our citizens, allies, and partners; to the strength of our economies and businesses; to the enduring stability of the rules-based international order; to a safe, open, reliable, and interoperable internet that will remain an unquestionable facet of life for decades to come.

Here’s the bottom line: cybersecurity, digital diplomacy, emerging technologies—just like economic development, regional security, migration, and more—each hold a common thread.

They all cross borders. They all impact the strength of our democracies. They all affect the lives of our peoples. And we can’t address any of these challenges alone. In fact, we have no choice but to tackle them together.

For friends like the United States and Costa Rica, that comes naturally—and that coordination will continue between our presidents, our governments, and our communities.

Thank you very much. Thank you, John, and thank you, Mr. President. I hope you enjoy today’s conversation.

U.S. Department of State

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