Powell Suggests APEC Strategy for Bridging Digital Divide

October 25, 2002

to the APEC Plenary in Los Cabos, Mexico, Powell said the

United States “will devote time and resources to help the (APEC)

education network develop and implement this strategy.”

Powell also spoke of APEC efforts, led by the United States, geared

toward promoting “greater investment in our people and to empower them

through access to health, education, information and especially access

to capital.”

“Our people will always be our most valuable assets,” Powell stressed.

Following is the State Department transcript of Secretary Powell’s

October 24 remarks:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Spokesman

(Los Cabos, Mexico)


Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

October 24, 2002

Fiesta Americana Hotel

Los Cabos, Mexico

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. To drive growth and generate prosperity, we

in the APEC region are making substantial investments in our economies

and in our people.

We know that strengthening our security, particularly our security

from global terrorism, is an important part of that effort. Our

leaders will soon issue a package of bold joint actions to make the

flow of trade, finance and communication more secure.

My colleague, Secretary Mineta, spoke yesterday about the importance

that my government attaches to this initiative. The United States is

committed to building counterterrorism capacity in the region, and we

are prepared to offer programs and activities that can help address

the needs of the various nations of the APEC region.

We will be distributing a document with details of our capacity

building programs.

We look forward to working with all of you to ensure our common

security — security that is vital to our continued growth. Beyond

security, APEC has been active in another essential area of sound

pro-growth policy: investing in people. Investing in education and

health assures more equitable sharing of the benefits of growth.

Investing in our people also spurs growth itself by creating vigorous

and skilled citizens who become agents of development themselves.

Their productivity in turn generates more resources to invest back in

our societies — so that the virtuous circle that we have just

described is at the very heart of development. The United States is

proud to lead a number of efforts in APEC to promote greater

investment in our people and to empower them through access to health,

education, information and especially access to capital.

Allow me to review briefly some of the APEC economic and technical

cooperation programs which we strongly support. In the area of health:

We have spearheaded efforts to better coordinate disease monitoring

networks. This will help APEC members better detect and respond to

outbreaks of infectious disease.

We are helping to improve HIV/AIDS prevention and care standards

through a project that we are pleased to co-sponsor with Thailand.

And we welcome the important new cooperative efforts by APEC members

in such areas as pandemic influenza planning, better use of on-line

databases, and health as it relates to water resources and


Finally, we have built on APEC’s tradition of working closely with the

private sector. For example, we will be working with industry,

international organizations and the scientific community to establish

what we call the “Life Science Forum”. The Forum will promote research

and development of new products that will both save lives and drive


On education, we are taking better advantage of the opportunities

created by the information technology revolution to reach out to the

peoples of APEC and bridge the digital divide among us. We are

developing “the Asia Pacific Network for Education” with the APEC

cyber education cooperation consortium. This web portal provides a

single entry point for policymakers and teachers to learn about best

practices in education throughout the APEC region.

U.S. companies are providing computer training to information

technology professionals and others from all around the APEC region as

part of China’s human capacity building promotion program. And the

United States has entered into a project with the People’s Republic of

China to teach English and Chinese using web-based technology.

Indeed, APEC is increasingly active in connecting our worlds and

improving our schools. And by better coordinating our activities, we

could realize many more concrete results.

I propose that we take our efforts a step further, and ask our

officials in APEC to develop a long-range strategy on e-learning. The

goal would be to help close the digital divide by increasing the

number of high-quality, low cost educational resources available to

the peoples of APEC.

The United States will devote time and resources to help the education

network develop and implement this strategy.

And we would welcome partners in this effort, such as the APEC

education foundation.

Teaching people new skills only empowers them, however, if they have

the opportunity to use those skills to better their lives. Improved

access to financing leads to greater economic well-being. In turn,

greater economic security allows people to invest in healthcare and to

invest in education, and ultimately, in themselves.

The United States is proud to have been an integral part this year of

APEC’s work on micro-enterprise and micro-finance. We want to ensure

that micro-entrepreneurs have access to the market-based financing and

services they need, and we championed the establishment of a permanent

sub-group on micro-enterprise.

APEC members must continue their efforts to improve the soundness and

efficiency of our financial markets so that all businesses, large and

small, have access to the resources they need to grow.

Also, we recognize the powerful contribution that women make to

sustainable economic development, so we must do all we can to

cultivate entrepreneurship by women.

And we must work to build a creative environment that encourages new

ideas and new businesses.

For example, new technologies, such as agricultural bioengineering,

can better people’s lives by enhancing food nutrition, improving

productivity and protecting the environment.

Fundamentally, our collective capacity to reap the benefits of

globalization depends on establishing conditions for good governance,

sound economic and trade policies, and wise stewardship of our

resources — especially our human resources.

Our people will always be our most valuable assets. My government

remains committed to working with our APEC partners to achieve a

prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific region by freeing and

empowering all of our peoples.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.

Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)