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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 12, 1999
                          PANAMA AND COLOMBIA 

Kenneth H. MacKay Jr., the President's Special Envoy to the Americas, will embark on a trip November 13-16 to Colombia and Panama to focus on the critical role that the private sector can play to enhance economic growth and stability in the region.

"There is much discussion of the resources and funds needed to confront the problems that many countries of this hemisphere face," Governor MacKay said on the eve of his departure. "But more effort should be directed at seeking solutions and creative economic alternatives that will strengthen the fundamental underpinnings of these economies."

"The record shows that sustained economic growth comes from creating stable, predictable climates for investment and trade and that leads to economic progress that can help allay some of the problems the region confronts," he added.

Governor MacKay will travel to Panama on November 13 and will arrive in Colombia on November 15, where he will meet with government and private sectors leaders to push the importance of investment, trade, balanced economic development, and institutional transparency.

Along with Panamanian President Moscoso, the Special Envoy on November 15 will address an international conference in Panama City of business leaders hosted by the Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America on the future of business in the Americas. Attendees will include government dignitaries from the region and more than 400 business people representing many of the U.S. companies doing business in Latin America.

He will also tour the Panama Canal and visit a rain forest preserve where the Smithsonian Institution and USAID are assisting in the management of a watershed preservation project vital to the well-being of the Canal.

In Bogota, Colombia, Governor MacKay plans to visit a local business involved in alternative crop development efforts and will sit down with government and business leaders to discuss ways to improve the investment climate and encourage trade.

"A strong economic recovery in Colombia could make an important contribution to the struggle to end the bloodshed and the scourge of drug production and trafficking," Governor MacKay said.

"New jobs will draw people away from producing drugs in order to feed their families. A strong economy can decrease the role for narcotraffickers and can help build stability in Colombia and the hemisphere. The private sector has a vital role to play in Colombia's efforts to realize peace." Governor MacKay stated. "That will be my focus on this trip."

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