In late September 2008, twelve countries of the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, met in New York to launch the Pathways to Prosperity Initiative. As then-U.S. President George W. Bush explained, "This initiative will provide a forum where leaders can work to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared. It will deepen the connections among regional markets."
Pathways to Prosperity is a strategic, action-oriented platform for regional partners to promote inclusive economic growth in the Western Hemisphere. Working through policy seminars, targeted technical assistance and an annual ministerial, Pathways facilitates the exchange of “best practices” for expanding access to credit, building human capacity and other broadening economic opportunities.
The ministerial for 2011 took place in Santo Domingo on October 4 and 5. High-level representatives of Pathways to Prosperity member countries, now numbering 15, met to discuss the next steps to ensure that economic prosperity in the Americas is more widely shared.
Latin America has managed to avoid the worst effects of the global economic crisis of 2008 and the Western Hemisphere has seen some strong economic growth. We have shared best practices, embraced good policies, made it clear that we are going to close the inequality gap in this region, said Secretary Clinton. Nonetheless, that has not been enough to lift the many millions of people who are still living in poverty into a better life.
The representatives at the ministerial adopted a new plan of action that calls for empowering small businesses, facilitating trade, building a modern workforce, and promoting sustainable business practices and environmental cooperation. To help move this plan forward, Secretary Clinton announced that the United States will commit up to $17.5 million to fund projects that foster inclusive economic growth in the Americas. This is in addition to another $5 million that the United States contributed during the past year in support of Pathways to Prosperity projects.
As Secretary of State Clinton said, "We have to create the conditions that will allow millions of our fellow citizens to break free from poverty, to participate more fully in our economies and to build better lives for their children."