On April 17-19, President Barack Obama attended the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, along with the 33 other democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Western Hemisphere. The President used his first meeting with many of his regional counterparts to start engaging in a new relationship with countries of the Americas and to forge partnerships and joint approaches to work on the common challenges facing the people of the Americas–the economic crisis, our energy and climate future, and public safety. The theme of the Summit was “Securing Our Citizens’ Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security, and Environmental Sustainability.”
Over the past three days, the Summit leaders demonstrated their commitment to promote human prosperity by agreeing to cooperate to address the current financial crisis, strengthening efforts to reduce inequality, improving food security, promoting health, and improving the quality of education. In the spirit of partnership, leaders committed to developing strategies to promote access for our people to reliable, efficient, affordable and clean energy, especially for the poorest sectors. Leaders also agreed to take actions to promote environmental sustainability. Recognizing the importance of addressing the threats to security in our hemisphere, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen public security. Leaders also affirmed that the aspirations and goals for the Americas depend on strong democracies, good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. President Obama announced measures of the past three days that reinforce the U.S. commitment to work jointly to advance the goals agreed to in Trinidad and Tobago.
Social Inclusion and Economic Development
In recent years, the Western Hemisphere has made significant progress in social inclusion, the reduction of poverty, and democratic governance. Still, much more needs to be done and President Obama committed to work jointly to protect these advances in a period of economic crisis.
– Economic Recovery: President Obama led efforts to triple the size of a reformed International Monetary Fund from $250 billion to $750 billion, which will have significant impact on emerging markets in the region. The United States also supported expanding the Inter-American Development Bank’s short term crisis response through changes in lending limits and capital ratios.
– Microfinance Growth Fund for the Western Hemisphere: The President announced a new partnership of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) for the purpose of launching a fund that will provide stable sources of finance to microfinance institutions and microfinance investment vehicles to help rebuild their capacity to lend during this difficult period and to increase the supply of finance for micro and small businesses as recovery takes hold. The partners have identified $100 million in initial capital and will look for additional partners with the ultimate goal of $250 million.