Positive Contribution to DevelopmentThe United States has a great interest in furthering economic and social development in Latin America. If frustration continues to grow, radical forces will depict us as an obstacle to national development. We could become increasingly alienated from our hemisphere neighbors. Instead, our resources, knowledge and influence in the world community can provide the margin of support which helps make progress possible.
Exports represent the most reliable long-term source of foreign exchange for our friends. To help them increase their exports is to help them reduce dependence and enhance self-respect.
Latin American countries face discrimination in many trading markets in which industrialized nations offer preferential tariffs to other developing countries, such as the European Common Market's special treatment for African and Mediterranean exports. In 1970, on behalf of our hemispheric partners, we pressed hard in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and in the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development for a generalized scheme of preferences which all developed countries would apply to all developing countries. We achieved agreement among the developed nations to go forward with comparable systems of generalized preferences. These would significantly reduce discrimination now faced by Latin American countries as well as give them preferential treatment in our market. And our own preference list pays attention to items of particular interest to Latin America.
To further help our partners earn foreign exchange, we made available direct technical assistance for export development and for the promotion of tourism.
In some Latin American countries a serious debt service burden eats up foreign exchange. Heavy borrowings for essential development funds may reach a point at which the repayments absorb a disproportionate share of their earnings. With our strong support, CIAP elicited the cooperation of other creditor nations and stimulated international financial institutions to consider solutions, such as rescheduling of interest payments.
While helping our friends increase their earnings of foreign exchange, there are many kinds of development assistance that we and other industrial nations should provide directly. The United States has supplied a substantial share of the external resources for development financing in the hemisphere. In addition to our major contributions to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and U.N. development activities, we gave in F.Y. 1970 $422 million in bilateral AID loans and grants; $506 million to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the principal regional entity for development lending; $153 million in our Food for Peace Program.
In April we joined in a major replenishment of the resources of the IDB, which will permit it to increase its lending in the hemisphere by 50 percent in the next three to four years. Congress has authorized part of the $1.8 billion that I requested as the U.S. share, and I have strongly urged that the remainder be authorized early in 1971.
In the IA-ECOSOC discussions we agreed to direct a growing portion of our assistance toward regional economic groups, development of capital markets, and expansion of regional scientific and technological programs.
At year's end, the Congress authorized a contribution to completion of the last unfinished link of the Pan American Highway, the Darien Gap in Panama and Colombia. This project holds great promise for regional economic expansion. It will facilitate the movement of goods and people from one end of the continent to the other and promote trade and economic integration.