On March 4, 2010, Secretary Clinton addressed the Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial in San Jose, Costa Rica. Pathways to Prosperity is a conference for foreign leaders focused on economic development in the Americas. Secretary Clinton said, “I look around this table and I see nations dedicated to strengthening democracy, spreading opportunities, and promoting inclusive prosperity throughout the Americas.”
Before addressing how the United States is supporting Pathways to Prosperity initiatives across the Western Hemisphere, Secretary Clinton acknowledged that the region has been tested by a number of crises, including two recent devastating earthquakes. She said, “I was in Santiago two days ago, where I had the opportunity to meet and consult with both President Bachelet and President-elect Pinera. And it is so important that we all, once again, come to the aid of our neighbors.”
Secretary Clinton continued, “Now it is time to stand with both Chile and Haiti as they recover and rebuild. These emergencies highlight the strength of our ties as neighbors, partners, and friends, and they amplify the importance of the work we are doing through Pathways. We are here to help create conditions that enable people to obtain the economic and social opportunities critical to national and regional stability and progress. Whether our countries are seeking to defuse threats to democracy, protect against the effects of natural disasters, or build long-term prosperity, it is vital that we spread the benefits of economic growth and integration to more people in more places.”
Secretary Clinton said that Pathways to Prosperity provides a critical forum where nations committed to democracy and open markets can share the best practices for promoting social and financial inclusion. After traveling throughout the hemisphere, the Secretary said, “What I have concluded is that talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”
She then outlined several Pathway initiatives that the United States will be focusing on to support entrepreneurs across the hemisphere. “First, we've had success in our country with the creation of small business development centers where people can go to get information and advice about starting a business. Some Pathway countries have adopted this model, and we're looking to share it with others by organizing exchange visits between countries.”
Secretary Clinton continued, “Second, we are supporting women entrepreneurs across the hemisphere. We know that women still today are often overlooked or excluded, especially when they go for credit. I've had women say to me, 'A lot of dreams die in the parking lots of banks.' So even though these women are innovative, energetic, hardworking, and committed, we're not doing enough to support their businesses and efforts. Last October, the United States hosted a conference for women entrepreneurs from the Americasconference for women entrepreneurs from the Americas. And we've launched a mentoring network to connect experienced women business leaders with women who are just starting out. In the coming months, we'll work with you to deepen and expand that network.
“Third, we want to help our partners in Pathways modernize customs procedures, something that was also mentioned by the Costa Ricans. Efficient and effective customs practices are critical to attracting foreign investment and succeeding in global markets.”
The Secretary then said, “Fourth, trade requires effective communication. This year, we have offered 100 teachers from Pathways countries training in English language instruction, and over 400,000 students across the region are learning English at the 140 bi-national centers we support. This is work we are committed to continuing, and I'd like to ask our partners in Pathways to make this a mutual exchange. Millions of U.S. citizens speak Spanish as a first or second language, or are learning how to speak it. With your help, we can have even more U.S. citizens learning Spanish, and that will increase our trade and business ties.
“Fifth, we are working to help small and medium-sized enterprises decrease the amount of water, energy, and raw materials they need to protect natural resources, shrink carbon emissions, and save costs.
“Sixth and finally, the United States is committed to working with our Pathways partners to modernize laws that govern lending so that small and medium size businesses can use assets other than real estate as collateral for loans.”
Secretary Clinton concluded, “I was reminded again that wherever we live in the Americas, whatever our heritage, whatever language we speak, we all want the same thing: the chance to live safe and healthy lives; to see our families productive and moving toward a better future; to participate fully in our communities; and to do all that we can to extend those opportunities to others.”
Read the Secretary's full remarks here.