Recognizing that trade has been a positive story for the U.S. economy and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, President George Bush and leaders and representatives of 11 U.S. trading partners in the hemisphere launched a Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative last month.
The effort "will provide a forum where leaders can work to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared," Mr. Bush said. "It will deepen the connections among regional markets. It will expand our cooperation on development issues. This is a very promising initiative, and I expect positive results when our representatives meet on these issues later this year.”
Participants from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Peru joined President Bush to discuss how to use the Pathways initiative to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared throughout our societies.
These countries are our natural allies – they share our commitment to democracy, to ensuring that all members of society enjoy the benefits of free trade and economic development, and to improving the environmental and labor situation in a continent that continues to struggle with income inequality and social exclusion.
Trade ministers will meet regularly, including before the end of the year, to discuss trade and development issues and to develop an agenda to advance the Pathways initiative. Such strengthened relationships also will deepen connections among all participants and expand cooperation on development issues throughout the hemisphere.
Trade accounted for more than two thirds of U.S. economic growth last year, still a key engine for growth in the Western Hemisphere, and the pace was even greater in the first half of 2008. Pathways will build on this success to create more opportunities for the citizens of all participating nations.