Corporate Social Responsibility Week Opening

Corporate Social Responsibility Week Opening
Ambassador Manes remarks at the Corporate Social Responsibility Week Opening
Monday July 9, 8:30 AM, Crowne Plaza Hotel

Ambassador Manes remarks at the Corporate Social Responsibility Week Opening

* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish language text should be considered authoritative.

It is a pleasure to be here with you this morning and see so many representatives of small, medium and large companies; cooperation agencies; representatives of higher education institutions; central and municipal government; media; civil society organizations, and university students and teachers.

This is really one of the most important events of the year and it is a great pleasure to be able to participate once again. This year the theme of the Week of Corporate Social Responsibility is “Innovation for sustainability”. This is an approach that we at the embassy also share and we named 2018 the year of innovation, because we believe that development is driven by people who dare to think different, more modern and who pursue innovative actions.

Companies are not the exception to this and in El Salvador innovation has given way to business models that ten years ago, five years ago, would have been considered impossible.

Can you imagine a company that uses only recycled materials, local materials, that only works with personnel without previous work experience and that has its operating rooms in rural areas?

A traditional business model would say that this is not a sustainable enterprise.

But if the business model focuses on other values ​​such as being ecologically sustainable and fair trade, empowering women and enhancing the value of handmade work, then you can build a brand that can achieve international recognition.

What I have just described is the business model of Lula Mena, and their fashion accessories have reached all the way to the red carpet of the Cannes festival.

This is just one example of what a company can achieve when the center of its business model is social responsibility. We also have the example of League, which we were talking about earlier this morning.

El Salvador is at a time of many opportunities and innovation can be the catalyst for the change that is needed to achieve true development in the country. The advances that have already been achieved in security, for example, are fragile and can be lost if the standards of the PNC’s institutions are not improved. They can be lost if corruption in the justice system is tolerated, if corrupt General Prosecutors are elected, and they can be lost if the economy does not improve exponentially.

This event brings together people from different areas of society because the work of moving forward a country belongs to everyone. A nation is built by each citizen, and the decisions that are made in each area affect everyone. Business decisions are no exception and on behalf of the United States government I can reaffirm our commitment to El Salvador, so that the Western Hemisphere remains the most competitive and dynamic region in the world in economic terms.

There are many countries that invest in El Salvador and are interested in the integral development of this country, but new powers such as China are also emerging, seeking to advance their own agenda of economic and military expansion. And the gains that can be had in the short term bring with it great consequences that endanger values ​​such as democracy, transparency and fair practices of market competition. The protection of the environment, the protection of workers’ rights. All this we have been talking about today. The truth is a bit ironic that we were talking about all this today that all of you are in this room this morning. We have companies here, who you are representing, who are trying to do things right, who are fighting every day to improve the investment climate of this country but doing it in a sustainable way.

Who is not on this board that has all the company names? What do you not see there? Someone knows? You do not see a company from China, because they do not share these values ​​that you are fighting for. They do not share the values ​​of sustainability. They do not share the values ​​of protecting the rights of workers. They do not share the values ​​about the environment. All these things for which you fight. All this is to improve the way companies are functioning. They are fighting to protect the rights of workers. There are companies that do not respect that.

We have to take care of your advances. The advances to which you are dedicating your lives to seek improvement in this way. You have to be careful with the people who are considering this investment. We really need to have our eyes open on who truly benefits from this investment. Does anyone really think that Salvadorans will benefit from this investment? No.

What does China normally do when it invests in a country? Bring their own people, discuss everything behind closed doors. They do not respect the laws of the country, even less the international law.

We have to keep our eyes open when someone is offering a deal that seems too good to be true. Because normally when we hear something like that, it’s because it is. Look beyond that and ask only one question: who will benefit from this investment? And keep your eyes open.

All the things that you are fighting for are to improve the environment here, to really show that there is a responsible private sector, that there is a private sector that has sustainability at its core. We are learning from Salvadoran companies that are doing the right thing. We need to look at these advances that you are making, because this is the way to move forward. Not all investment is the same. Not all investment is the same. We need to continue promoting the investment of companies that are doing things right and that is you, those who are sitting here in this room today. And I want to thank you all for your efforts, all the work, all your commitment to your country, to do things well.

* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish language text should be considered authoritative.