Exciting times lie ahead for El Salvador as its partnership with the United States, under the Partnership for Growth (PFG) strategy, is advancing at a steady pace. Since the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, Jose Fernandez, visited El Salvador in August this year, both sides have been working closely to develop a set of activities and policies designed to overcome any barriers to economic development.
The Partnership for Growth is an effort to put into practice President Obama's Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, and represents a departure from business-as-usual for both the United States (El Salvador´s most important trade and investment partner and home to more than 2.3 million Salvadorans) and El Salvador. This effort recognizes the important role of policy reforms to support the private sector and civil society in increasing El Salvador's participation in the global economy.
“I want to thank publicly President Obama for including our country in such important initiatives like the Bridge Project and the Partnership for Growth,” said President of El Salvador Sr. D. Mauricio Funes Cartagena.
“I also want to thank President Obama when he recognizes the importance of our population in the development of his country. The presence of more than 2 million of Salvadorans who work and live in the United States, and the importance that this population has in the development of El Salvador through the remittances that they send year by year.”
PFG is not a new initiative focused on improving a single sector, but rather a comprehensive proposal aimed at accelerating and sustaining broad-based economic growth in a select group of countries.
“We are in the face of a great opportunity for our political, economic and social development, an opportunity that is historic in nature – to do away with the obstacles that in the past did not allow us to advance as a unit towards a new model of development with social justice,” said President Funes Cartagena.
“WE ARE IN THE FACE OF A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, AN OPPORTUNITY THAT IS HISTORIC IN NATURE– TO DO AWAY WITH THE OBSTACLES THAT IN THE PAST DID NOT ALLOW US TO ADVANCE.”
D. MAURICIO FUNES CARTAGENA,
President of El Salvador
“But also it is fundamental from the economic point of view because the majority of the Latin America countries are just overcoming this international crisis better than other countries in the world based on models against poverty and betting on their productive sectors and the hardworking people that they have.”
In addition to trade and immigration, bilateral relations will focus on increased cooperation on security matters and on greater support for development programs. As a result, reforms have been made in key sectors to boost productivity and attract investment in agriculture, technology and the agro-fishery industries. The government has reformed the agriculture sector through the Agriculture Family Plan. This year they will spend $800 million (out of $4 billion) for public investment, which will also help the economy.
Another successful program initiated by President Funes Cartagena is the Sistema Social de Proteccion Universal, which has helped protect the most vulnerable in El Salvador´s society. The first measures included temporary work programs, the construction of 25,000 homes for social housing, and the expansion of basic services.
President Fune’s aim is to "write a new history in the field of social policy”. His first campaign was three-pronged: to give free uniforms and supplies to 1.3 million students in the public sector, to ensure that social security covered the unemployed and to eliminate fees for access to health services. “We need to make a peaceful and democratic revolution to implement a social model that will help organize the economy and promote human development,” summarized the president.
As relations deepen between the U.S. and El Salvador it is important to note that this year is the 190th year anniversary of the First Independence Cry, something that President Obama acknowledged and commended the country on.
“I am delighted to congratulate the people of El Salvador as you celebrate the 190th anniversary of your independence this September 15,” said President Obama. “The United States and El Salvador share a strong commitment to democracy, rule of law, and inclusive economic development. Our ties are further enriched by the 2,3 million Salvadorans who call the United States home. El Salvador is a key partner in our efforts to dampen the threats posed by transnational criminal organizations and gangs. Through our Partnership for Growth, we are committed to working closely to boost economic prosperity and create a safer, more prosperous, and more democratic future for all our citizens.”
El Salvador is the only country in the Americas selected to participate in the Partnership for Growth program (the other states are Ghana, Tanzania and the Philippines). The simple fact that President Obama has chosen the country is in itself a message of confidence that will attract foreign investment going forward.