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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Gutierrez at Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce

"Our vision for the Western Hemisphere is one of growth and prosperity," Gutierrez says

Posted: October 10, 2007

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez delivering his remarks to members and guests of the Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce in Montevideo, October 9, 2007. [U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi]
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez delivering his remarks to members and guests of the Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce in Montevideo, October 9, 2007.
"Trade is important for the U.S. and Uruguay," stated U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez in his remarks to the Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce in Montevideo, October 9, 2007. "President Vazquez recognized a fundamental truth: for Uruguay to grow, it must look outward for trade and investment. I am looking forward to being part of continuing discussions to expand trade and create new opportunities for our two nations," he added.

Following is a transcript of Gutierrez's remarks as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

Prepared Remarks of Carlos M. Gutierrez
U.S. Secretary of Commerce
Montevideo, Uruguay
October 9, 2007

AUDIO

SECRETARY GUTIERREZ: Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s a special pleasure to be here with so many honored guests.

The Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce has become a powerful voice for the benefits of the rule of law, and expanded trade and investment between our two countries.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez delivering his remarks to members and guests of the Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce in Montevideo, October 9, 2007. [U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi]As you know, trade is important for the U.S. and Uruguay. President Vazquez recognized a fundamental truth: for Uruguay to grow, it must look outward for trade and investment. I am looking forward to being part of continuing discussions to expand trade and create new opportunities for our two nations.

Engaging in the global economy is a high priority for the Bush Administration. During his March visit to Montevideo, President Bush described the trip as “a statement of a desire to work together with people in our neighborhood.”

Our vision for the Western Hemisphere is one of growth and prosperity. Growth and prosperity for the whole region.

I know that President Vazquez shares this vision and has made important advances in trade relationships, innovation and education.

He joins other leaders in the hemisphere, like Presidents Lula, Bachelet, Uribe, Garcia, Calderon, and others who see future economic growth in the face of increasing competition from Asia as being linked with market reforms and further integration with the U.S. and neighbors.

I have come to Montevideo this week to emphasize the commitment the United States has to President Vazquez’s Administration and to explore ways we can increase U.S.-Uruguay economic cooperation.

U.S.-Uruguay Economic Relations

The last two years have been good for U.S.-Uruguay economic relations. We worked closely with government leaders to fulfill the ambitious agenda set by Presidents Bush and Vazquez that included:

• The Joint Commission on Trade and Investment in 2002;

• The Bilateral Investment Treaty in 2006; and,

• The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 2007.

These are important milestones in our journey to strengthen our overall economic relationship. The TIFA talks will enable us to do strengthen even more.

Last night I was pleased to sign a Letter of Intent with Minister Lepra, which continues the work we began at the America’s Competitiveness Forum (ACF). The agreement will foster our joint efforts to spur innovation and increase competitiveness. The LOI and the ACF follow-up Symposium on Innovation that Uruguay will host next year are focused on increasing the flow of ideas and sharing best practices.

The United States is Uruguay’s third largest trading partner, and the Uruguayan people have benefited from the creation of jobs and opportunities related to this expansion of trade.

This nation is a dynamic trading partner for the United States. U.S. exports to Uruguay grew a remarkable 131 percent – from $209 million in 2002 to $482 million in 2006. This outperformed overall U.S. export growth for the same period.

This economic progress has been accompanied by a commitment to expanding access to both innovation and education—both are essential for continuing on the path of prosperity. What I would congratulate Uruguay for, President Vazquez for, is that you are looking outward.

Progress in Education and Innovation

Uruguay has a very strong public educational system. The literacy rate here is an impressive 97 percent.

And, in 2006, Uruguay will be in the first phase of the One Laptop Per Child program. This program is sponsored to prepare students for the innovation jobs of the 21st century. This is another example of very progressive thinking.

We know that a challenge remains in raising completion rates for high school and higher education. Students must realize that the benefits of educational attainment grow exponentially through the completion of educational goals. To maintain sustainable growth, education is critical.

Uruguay is making great strides in a number of innovative programs and initiatives to increase business opportunities and create an environment for foreign firms to prosper. For example:

• Promotion of technology-based entrepreneurship is increasing through programs such as the Knowledge Development Center.

• Uruguay is the largest exporter of software in South America. It exports around $150 million of software, and this figure is expected to exceed $500 million in the next five years.

• Some prominent companies, such as India’s TaTa Consultancy Services, have established development headquarters in Uruguay.

• Microsoft is involved in several software development projects with local partners here.

Uruguay is clearly using the power of the global market by embracing technology industries and encouraging entrepreneurship.

WTO Information Technology Agreement

On this visit, I will be meeting with Uruguayan entrepreneurs from the high-tech and software sectors, as well as the leadership of Uruguay’s newly-created Innovation Agency. We’ll discuss regional efforts to foster innovation. We’ll also talk about the WTO Information Technology Agreement.

Uruguay has a vision to be an innovation hub in the Hemisphere and this Agreement is essential. Information technologies have the potential to increase productivity, generate economic growth, and improve the quality of life for all.

The rapid growth in the global economy has intensified competition and expanded world trade. The elimination of tariffs for ITA products makes it possible to use the potential of these technologies for the benefit of millions of people.

The ITA is about bringing the tariffs on all Information Technology goods down to zero among the signatory countries – and keeping them there.

Today, 70 WTO Members, representing 97 percent of world trade in IT products, are participants to the ITA.

Uruguay should join this important effort.

Challenges to Growth

Most of my career was in the private sector. One thing I learned was that investment follows transparency, responsible regulation, adherence to the rule of law, intellectual property protection and predictability.

These can be great advantages for Uruguay and the message will spread to companies around the world that Uruguay is a pro-growth destination for business.

Uruguay’s tourism industry is bringing in more visitors and is set to put the country on everyone’s radar. With travelers coming to Uruguay from Europe and North America, the development of marinas and apartment complexes as well as the opportunities for real estate development are growing.

Future U.S.-Uruguay Economic Cooperation

We are committed to working with government and business leaders to support future growth in trade and investment.

U.S. companies produce world-class goods and services. They are eager to do business in Uruguay, build stronger economies, and create jobs in both nations.

And I want to thank the Uruguayan-American Chamber of Commerce for all you are doing to promote pro-growth policies and develop the commercial partnerships that create profits and jobs and deliver the benefits of democracy to the people.

In other countries I’ve visited, it has often been the business community that takes the lead in urging governments to find ways to strengthen and deepen economic ties.

As representatives of U.S. business in Uruguay, I hope you will actively engage in the TIFA process and provide us with concrete suggestions and advice.

We look forward to working with you to create growth and opportunity for our citizens, our countries, and our hemisphere.

Thank you.

(end text)

 
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