Mr. President, Foreign Minister Martinez Bonilla, Technical Secretary Lorenzana, Ambassador Aponte, distinguished guests and colleagues.
It is a privilege for me to be here to represent the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation for the signing of El Salvador’s $277 million compact. Importantly, I join Ambassador Aponte and our colleagues on behalf of the people of the United States to mark another milestone in the close and friendly relations between our two countries.
This agreement represents a major step in the U.S-El Salvador partnership and will make a significant contribution to the Partnership for Growth program.
I want to thank both teams—from El Salvador and from MCC—who have worked tirelessly to develop this investment aimed at overcoming key constraints to economic growth in El Salvador.
This compact, which has been prepared jointly by the two teams, offers a plan to support economic growth in El Salvador. The plan seeks to improve El Salvador’s regulatory capacity and public sector efficiency through a combination of technical assistance, policy reforms and transfer of global best practices. It will prepare public-private partnerships in key areas to attract domestic and foreign private sector investment. It will increase the productivity of Salvadoran labor by making investments aimed at improving the quality of education and providing the right skills and training to Salvadoran students. And finally, investments will be made in physical infrastructure to reduce transportation and logistics costs, particularly along the critical coastal highway and at the border with Honduras.
These interrelated projects will enhance the investment climate in El Salvador and send a clear signal to the business community – both at home and abroad – that El Salvador is OPEN FOR BUSINESS! By helping to improve the productivity of labor and improving the business environment in El Salvador, these investments will help generate economic growth and reduce poverty.
MCC has worked throughout Central America. We have in the past made investments aimed at generating economic growth to fight poverty in Honduras, Nicaragua, and of course, El Salvador. The last MCC compact with El Salvador was an investment of more than $450 million to support the transformation of the Northern Zone of this great country. El Salvador has qualified for this new MCC investment in large part by passing the MCC score card for the last three years. As you all know, MCC’s score cards are based on indicators compiled by external parties such as the World Bank Heritage Foundation and Freedom House, and our selection framework is transparent and available on our website.
El Salvador has demonstrated tangible and sustained progress towards improving the investment climate and strengthening the rule of law. As part of this compact, El Salvador has made — and will continue to make — critical policy and regulatory reforms. These reforms will sustain our efforts and will give global, American and Salvadoran businesses greater confidence to invest in El Salvador. This compact is a result of sustained efforts over many years by various political parties, private sector and civil society to improve the governance and economic prospects of El Salvador.
Today marks an important step in the partnership between the people of El Salvador and the people of the United States. Congratulations to all who made this partnership possible and those who will work now to realize its promise.
Felicidades y adelante!