Americas Competitiveness Forum, Más o Menos

By August 19, 2008Trade

The Americas Competitiveness Forum brought the presidents of Colombia, Guatemala and El Salvador to Atlanta yesterday to highlight the interconnectedness of the economies and people of North America, Central America and South America. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez was the keynote speaker, and many top business executives were represented.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does have a good story of modest length, noting both the promotion of trade agreements by both Secretary Gutierrez and Colombia President Alvaro Uribe. Energy was also high on the agenda.

Concern about energy costs was also reflected in sessions devoted to renewables, and also to worry about the effect of global prices on small economies.

Ray C. Anderson, CEO of Atlanta-based Interface, said his goal is to create a carpet that has “not a drop of oil” by 2020.

And Elias Antonio Saca Gonzalez, president of El Salvador, asked to list his five most pressing problems, replied, “Oil, oil, oil, oil, oil.”

Canada’s message emphasized energy, as well.

OTTAWA — Industry Minister Jim Prentice touted Canada’s “stable” supply of oil and gas to an audience of American politicians and heads of industry Monday as he called for a relaxing of barriers that hinder cross-border trade.

Speaking at the Americas Competitiveness Forum in Atlanta, Ga., Prentice said freer trade is vital to economic prosperity in the Western Hemisphere.

Otherwise, he warned, there’s a risk the Americas will be left out while others prosper.

“We need to make trade logistics and border infrastructure a priority in the short term or lose opportunities to other global competitors who are better organized to facilitate trade,” he said.

Big story outside North America, though. Granted, much of the conference was conducted in Spanish.

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