Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu
Managua, September 6, 2017
Good morning to all. It is a pleasure to be here with you.
Allow me to congratulate the American University and the International Congress of the Academic Network of Commerce and Business for organizing this conference. Before entering my diplomatic career, I worked at IBM and understood the perspective of private enterprise. Now, as a diplomat, my colleagues and I work every day to promote prosperity by facilitating trade and promoting economic development in the United States and Nicaragua.
I have a special interest in the nexus between technological innovation, markets, and international business. We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And rapid technological development means that countries and companies need to adapt to the changing revolution–consumer demands, product types, and production methods.
Countries and companies best positioned to compete in these markets will be those that invest more in innovation, information exchange, and are more flexible. Stability by itself is not enough. Stability became possible in the twentieth century. The key in the twenty-first century is sustainability. Sustainable economic models require countries to improve their investment climate and the rule of law and to empower and guide their innovators and companies. Sustainable economic models require companies to understand that new competitors come from technology and from companies outside their industry.
For example, Amazon, a company that started selling books, just bought a supermarket. Traditional supermarkets never thought a new competitor would come from a bookstore. In Nicaragua, much like the rest of Latin America, sustainability requires serious actions to transform the educational system, adapt production to new technology, and build a climate of innovation. Economic development for smaller economies of Latin America requires more participation in the global and regional economy.
I’ll give you the example of CAFTA. The agreement has increased trade for all members and created incentives for investment. No nation should expect to be able to navigate through the changes of the world economy in autopilot. And small economies must work with a vision of the future. For example, Nicaragua has had a competitive advantage because of the low cost of its workforce. But in today’s world, where production is moving from people to robots, the cost of labor is not a key factor.
Today, the price of energy to run technology and employees with technical training and a good education are the key. In Latin America, most universities are still focused on traditional careers such as medicine and law and not on future careers such as computer engineering. Students cannot find work and companies who are preparing to compete in the new global market have difficulty finding employees with the necessary skills.
Universities, governments, and private enterprise working together should prepare for the future. Countries that depend almost exclusively on raw materials and exports of basic manufactures must be developed and transformed. This Congress has brought us together to discuss new technologies, products, and policies that are changing the world economic, social and political order. More than ever, international trade in the new world order requires us to be aware that the prosperity of all is interconnected.
I hope you can discuss these issues during this conference and bring more prosperity to Latin America in the 21st century.
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