On November 16, 2010, at the Fourth Annual Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta, Ga., we, the Vice Presidents, Ministers and Vice Ministers of 15 Western Hemisphere countries gathered together to share our visions and experiences in issues related to competitiveness. One of the objectives of the Americas Competitiveness Forum and of this meeting was to move toward a strategic vision for growth and competitiveness for the Western Hemisphere. In this context, we call on the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC) to define principles that will guide a 2020 Competitiveness Agenda in the Americas for its consideration at the Fourth Summit of the Americas which will be held in Colombia in 2012.
One of the important outcomes of the Americas Competitiveness Forum last year was the launch of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). We note with satisfaction the progress made through the ACF in the establishment of a high-level public policy dialogue on competitiveness in the Americas through the RIAC with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS) and other international institutions.
We recognize the importance of increasing productivity and strengthening innovation systems as essential pillars for a competitiveness agenda in the Americas.
We urge increased collaboration, programs, and initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the countries in the Western Hemisphere, especially in the areas of workforce development, green economy, entrepreneurship, and small and medium-sized businesses’ productivity and innovation.
We welcome and thank the offers of the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Panama to host the Americas Competitiveness Forum for 2011, 2012, and 2013, respectively.
We recognize that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a significant source for job creation and sustainable economic growth, while promoting equity and social inclusion, as they represent more than 95 percent of firms and up to 70 percent of employment in the Americas.
We acknowledge that SMEs face a number of challenges related to access to financing and to an effective and up-to-date infrastructure of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) required for an SME ecosystem that fosters their growth, productivity, and innovation.
We recognize the need for public policies that enhance SMEs innovation, productivity, and competitiveness, as an important component for coping with economic crises and for fostering greater participation in domestic and international markets.
We call on international institutions to increase their support for public policy dialogues among countries in the Western Hemisphere to exchange experiences, lessons learned, and best practices in this area, and to strengthen strategic partnerships for creating an enabling environment for SME growth and competitiveness.
We look forward to the Fifth Americas Competitiveness Forum, set for October 2011 in the Dominican Republic, where we will review the principles for a 2020 Competitiveness Agenda in the Americas for its consideration at the VI Summit of the Americas which will be submitted by the RIAC.
We urge all countries in the Western Hemisphere to participate in the RIAC and in the upcoming ACF in the Dominican Republic.