Inter-American Economic Council Organizes Business Roundtable as Part of the OAS General Assembly Meeting in Santiago, Chile 2003


Barry S. Featherman, Esq.
Inter-American Economic Council
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Inter-American Economic Council Organizes Business Roundtable as Part of the OAS General Assembly Meeting in Santiago, Chile 2003.

The Inter American Economic Council (IAEC) is pleased to provide the outcomes of its private public discussions from its Annual Business Roundtable convened on June 7, 2003 on the eve of the Opening of the XXXIII Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States. The IAEC is dedicated to promoting better government policy making by providing a forum for direct interaction with the private sector. The purpose of the Business Roundtable was to provide a forum for high level public-private discussions and centered around the theme of ¨Economic Growth and Development in Latin America.

The Business Roundtable was held under the auspices of the Government of Chile. It was inaugurated by Dr. Cesar Gaviria, Secretary General of the OAS and H.E. Jose Miguel Insulza, Vice President and Minister of the Interior of Chile. The keynote speaker was H.E. Ivonne Juez de Baki, Minister of Commerce of the Republic of Ecuador. The program included remarks by Dr. Irene Klinger, newlyappointed Secretary of the OAS Summit of the Americas Secretariat and Jose Manuel Salazar, Director of the OAS Unit on Trade. The Conference was sponsored by the Stanford Financial Group, Delta Airlines, the City of Atlanta, the Ritz Carlton Santiago, and El Mercurio. The Program included very valuable input from its corporate participants including Cisneros Group, Delta Airlines, BellSouth, SNC Lavalin, ING, Sodexho, Greenberg Traurig, Equifax, HydroQuebec, Ritz Carlton Hotels, Quinenco, Banco de Chile, Carey y Abogados and Winston and Strawn.

The topics covered at this year´s Business Roundtable included appropriate ways to engage multi-lateral institutions (with a specific focus on the OAS), the private sector and governments in the development of strategies to create attractive investment climates to promote economic growth and development for the peoples of the Andean Region and the Wider Hemisphere. Specific topic discussions centered on Chile as a regional investment platform and pertinent regulatory regimes that have brought investment to the region, investment issues in the Andean region generally, the Summit Process and greater involvement of the Private Sector in partnering with government, and Trade and the U.S. Chile FTA and the prospect of wider hemisphere integration.

Specific Findings by Business Roundtable participants include:

An acknowledgement of the complexity of globalization, especially as it pertains to Latin American states. Overall, the necessity for leadership, proactive governance and strengthened institutions all focused on encouraging investment and exports to the region especially in light of the past two years of challenging economic turbulence.

Chile was lauded as an example for the Andean region ¨setting the bar¨ for other states by aiding in the region's integration and adherence to the rule of law. Chile´s global high marks involving anti corruption and competitiveness were highlighted. Due to Chile´s perseverance, its flexibility, and inclusion of sensitive issues of labor and environment within the confines of its agreement, Chile was able to secure a state of the art FTA with the U.S. for this region. The U.S.-Chile FTA is the sixth of all FTAS that the U.S. has signed with other countries. The discussion of the U.S./Chile FTA was led by one of Chile's lead negotiators, Ambassador Osvaldo Rosales who delivered his impressions one day after returning from the signing of the agreement in Miami. Another participant in the discussions was Ambassador John OLeary who served as U.S. Ambassador to Chile during the negotiations of the Agreement and Ambassador Peter Romero who was the Assistant Secretary of State of the U.S. during the negotiations reflected on both the agreement and wider hemispheric integration. The session was skillfully moderated by the Director of the OAS Trade Unit, Jose Manuel Salazar. Participants indicated that the Chile US FTA creates an opportunity for high range growth, elimination of nontariff barriers, attracting foreign direct investment, judicial certainty and the stimulation of entrepreneurial partnerships all working to the elimination of poverty, creation of jobs and improvement of the quality of life.

FTAA and its positive agenda recognized as primary vehicle of U.S. policy towards the hemisphere as well as recognition of the FTA´s broader and critical role in the WTO negotiations. However, whilst lauding the benefits of Free Trade overall, the need for periods of economic adjustments for Smaller Economies and vulnerable states was raised by the Minister of Trade of Antigua. Ambassador Oscar Hernandez of Venezuela talked about the FTAA from the perspective of Venezuela. Dr. Robin Rosenberg, Deputy Director of the University of Miami North South Center discussed both the Challenges that are confronted in the negotiations and suggestions for moving towards integration.

Specific recommendations from several participants included.

On the political front, there exists the need to encourage consensus politics by the Hemisphere's leadership on Trade Integration in order to come to a framework agreement

Ensure the inclusion of the private sector and its role in helping develop policy for the region and recognizing the significant catalysing and political role the private sector has and can play in integration of the region.

Help to eliminate technical obstacles to the FTAA process and ensure cooperation and technical assistance.

Anne Alonzo, Executive Vice President of the U.S. based National Foreign Trade Council indicated that Leveraging and building upon the recently signed US Chile Free Trade Agreement, there exists the need to restart negotiations on a U.S. Chile tax treaty and a tax treaty within the broader FTAA negotiations. A tax treaty could encourage even further international investment in the region.

It is also important to encourage and bring to light concrete examples of corporate social responsibility by companies in the region and well as Ensure, to the extent possible, that equitable benefits be felt in all states in the region especially those micro and small states with limited human, technological and natural resources. One size does not fit all.

Specific Short Term Follow-up Activities by the Council relevant to this Santiago Meeting include:

The Organization of an Andean Trade Ministerial Meeting in Atlanta

A Business Summit as part of the next Mini-Summit of Heads of Government in Mexico

A combined U.S. Congressional and Business Delegation to Ecuador

The Inter-American Economic Council, avails itself of this opportunity to transmit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Chile and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, its profound gratitude for assisting with this OAS Business Roundtable.

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