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Welcome, especially, excellencies. And may I single out President Iglesias of the IDB, thank him for being here; and of course, Secretary Brady, who has been so instrumental from the U.S. side in all of this.
Today marks another milestone along the path of mutual progress for the United States and its friends and neighbors. And we move another step closer to fulfilling the vision of a free, peaceful, and prospering Western Hemisphere.
As we sign the charter for the new Multilateral Investment Fund, we advance the far-sighted aims of Enterprise for the Americas Initiative. Our new fund is an exciting innovation. It will provide targeted support for Latin American countries as they transform lumbering, state-run industries into efficient private enterprises.
This fund assures our neighbors that together we share a stake in a better future and that we will stand by them and help them as they carry out some very difficult reforms. In a neighborhood of free and growing economies, investment helps everyone. Our effort today will lift the tide of hope and freedom, and it will free up new resources so that the men and women throughout the Americas can carry their dreams and achievements as far as their God-given talents will take them.
Make no mistake: The future growth of the United States economy depends on expanding mutual investment and trade with our neighbors in the Americas. Flourishing trade and investment throughout the hemisphere will create new jobs and raise the quality of life for people in Syracuse and St. Louis as well as Sao Paolo and Santiago.
Right now, we earn billion, one in every seven of our worldwide export dollars, from Latin America. Well over half of our foreign investment in developing countries goes to Latin America. And we're moving forward to create in this hemisphere a new free trade area of 360 million consumers and trillion in annual output, the North American free trade area of Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
This commitment will endure because we're in this to stay. And I know the people of the United States. And I can assure you that we will say no to the gloomy spirits that want to make pessimism a self-fulfilling prophecy. We embrace a future founded upon freedom, opportunity, and growth.
Working Americans and those looking for work have common sense. And they know that when other countries develop their economies, that results in more sales for America's airplanes and computers and other capital goods. The world is buying U.S. products at a record pace. Over the past 5 years, nearly half of America's real economic growth has been in exports. During those same 5 years, U.S. exports to Latin America and the Caribbean increased by 12 percent annually, much faster than the exports to the rest of the world.
Exports will carry us to rewarding new destinations in our future. And remember what exports do right here at home. Every billion dollar increase in exports generates 20,000 new jobs in the United States. And so, the long and short of it is, the prophets of American decline simply don't grasp the facts.
The 21 countries represented here already have pledged more than .2 billion to this important fund for our future. The U.S. pledge alone is 0 million, one-third of the .5 billion goal; Japan pledging an equal amount. I urge the United States Congress to act without delay to provide the funds to fulfill our pledge. And I also urge Congress to support debt reduction under the broader Enterprise for the Americas Initiative which will provide further support for U.S. exports, investment, and jobs.
Let me salute all of the representatives of the nations participating in this promising new effort. I want to commend the Inter-American Development Bank, its president, Enrique Iglesias, who will administer the new fund. And I am confident, sir, that you will do an outstanding job with your new responsibility.
This is a moment not so much for us but for future generations, really. It's they who will benefit from what's beginning here today. And it is for them that we invest in a new age of discovery and opportunity from Hudson Bay to the Straits of Magellan.
And now I would like to invite all the signatories who are here today with us, those that have signed this agreement already, to come up here, and we can muster behind the two remaining, two final signatures.
But thank you all for being here and for your constructive work on this wonderful project. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 2:33 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Following the President's remarks, Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady and Enrique V. Iglesias, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, signed the agreement.