SGA meeting focused on economic issues
Gov. Luis Fortuño, who has been chairing the prestigious group for the past year, opened the conference by calling on those in attendance to “take advantage of our proximity to emerging markets in Latin America.”
“The implementation of recent free trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, as well as the upcoming completion of the Panama Canal expansion in 2014, presents great opportunities to increase our penetration in these markets,” Fortuño said. “By successfully boosting our commercial relations, increasing foreign direct investment and advanced manufacturing opportunities, we will help create more jobs for our citizens, which is the goal we all share.”
Governors participating in the meeting include Steve Beshear (Kentucky); Mike Beebe (Arkansas); Bill Haslam (Tennessee); John de Jongh (U.S. Virgin Islands); Bob McDonnell (Virginia); and Bev Perdue (North Carolina).
Also attending were U.S. Commerce Undersecretary Francisco J. Sánchez; Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society; and Brian Kelly, president and general manager of Coca-Cola’s still beverages and supply chain business unit.
Founded in 1934, the SGA comprises 16 states and two territories and is the largest and oldest regional governors association.
The theme of the convention, and Fortuño’s one-year term as SGA president, has been “Growth Beyond Our Borders: Jobs, Investment and Commerce in South America.”
The SGA undertook lobbying efforts in Congress to push forward the free trade pacts and also undertook commercial missions to Latin American. It also steered “matchmaking” efforts between exporters in the SGA region and buyers in Latin America, expanding the use of federal tools such as U.S. export-assistance systems and Small Business Administration working-capital grant and loan programs.