CHAPTER 15

The Latin American Region

 

Some critics said that the United States government was too busy elsewhere during the years from 2001 to 2005 to work with our neighbors in Latin America, but the record and the results clearly show otherwise.By working together with individual countries and with the international financial institutions, and by supporting those leaders who were following good policies, we accomplished a lot; in fact, by 2004 the economic performance in Latin America improved so much that it was the best economic growth year in a quarter century.And on a personal note, I know that our Latin America office in the Treasury was always one of the very busiest offices during the whole period that I served at Treasury. The large number of speeches in this chapter and the speeches on individual Latin American countries in other chapters are themselves an indication of our strong focus on the region.

 

The economic situation in Latin America was not good at the start of the Bush administration in 2001 and 2002.I recall Mexican Finance Minister Gil Diaz visiting my office in early 2001 with many charts showing the sharp declines in manufacturing production (a direct result of the recession in the United States). Argentina was in crisis throughout 2001 and after the default on the debt the situation got worse in 2002 before it got better.Brazil was nearing crisis.In general growth in the region was low.

 

But by summer 2003 I saw signs of improvement, which I reported in a speech in New York (Item 4), admittedly going out on a limb with my relative optimism. But that optimism proved basically correct, and the rest of the speeches in this chapter portray a gradually improving economic situation in the region over the next three years, culminating in item 11 which traces out the improvements from economic crisis and low growth in 2001 to economic stability and strong growth in 2004. Items 12 and 13 are my speeches and press statements at the IDB meetings in Japan.

 

1.†† An Economic Growth Agenda, Inter-American Development Bank Annual Meetings, Fortaleza, Brazil, March 11, 2002

2.†† Productivity Growth in the Americas, Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce, Forataleza, Brazil, March 12, 2002

3.†† U.S. Economic Policy Toward Latin America and the Role of International Financial Institutions, Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, October 16, 2002

4.†† The Bush Administration's Approach to Latin America: Prospects and Policies, Council of the Americas, New York City, June 5, 2003

5.†† Supporting Economic Growth in Latin America, Fitch Rating's Latin America Conference, New York City, April 27, 2004

6.†† Remarks at Independence Day Celebration, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2004

7.†† The Latin American Expansion - Benefits for the United States, Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida, August 23, 2004

8.†† Statement by Head of U.S. Delegation to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Finance Ministers Meeting, Santiago, Chile, September 2, 2004

9.†† The Latin American Economic Recovery, Remarks at the Group of 50 Conference, Washington, DC, October 15, 2004

10. Economic Policies in the Western Hemisphere: Recent Accomplishments and Future Challenges, Remarks at a Luncheon for the Ambassadors of the Latin American Group, Brazilian Embassy, Washington, D.C., January 25, 2005

11. Latin America: From Crisis to Growth, Remarks at the Annual Meetings of the Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank, Okinawa, Japan, April 9, 2005

12. Press Statement at the Annual Meetings of the Inter-American Development Bank Okinawa, Japan, April 10, 2005

13. Economic Growth and Friendship, Governorís Address at the Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank, Okinawa, Japan April 10, 2005