October 25, I traveled to Montevideo to sign a Bilateral
Investment Treaty (BIT) between the United States and Uruguay,
the 39th such bilteral agreement that the U.S. has concluded
around the world. The investment treaty crowned a year of
negotiations within the framework of our Joint Commission
on Trade and Investment. It is further cementing the growing
trade relationship between our two countries.
The growth in our bilateral trade has been
nothing short of exceptional over the past couple of years.
The United States has become the first market for Uruguayan
exports. So far this year, Uruguayan companies exported
470 million dollars to the U.S., or 286% more than in 2002.
This represents about one fifth of all Uruguayan exports.
U.S. investment has also experienced significant growth,
whether it be in agro-industry, forestry, tourism or services.
By the end of 2003, accumulated U.S. investment in Uruguay
exceeded 600 million dollars.
Within this context, our Bilateral Investment Treaty levels
the playing field and ensures that investors from both Uruguay
and the U.S. are treated equitably through increased reciprocal
protections. Key protections include an obligation to treat
investors from the other country as favorably as national
investors, to allow free and timely transfer of funds relating
to an investment, and to provide prompt, adequate, and effective
compensation in case of expropriation. The result of the
signing of this treaty will be to raise investor confidence
and lower the perceived country risk, thus creating the
conditions for a deeper economic relationship, more direct
investment and increased trade.
This latest BIT with Uruguay is only one
of the numerous ways that the United States is actively
engaged in promoting increased trade and investment in Latin
America. The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile, which
went into effect earlier this year, has resulted in a significant
growth in trade with Chile. Our decade-long trade agreement
with Mexico, under the North American Free Trade Agreement,
continues to flourish, with more than half of the 3.5 million
new jobs created in Mexico since 1995 linked to trade. We
have just begun a fifth round of a U.S.-Andean FTA and we
recently completed negotiations of an FTA with five Central
American nations. Taking into account FTA’s in effect,
completed or under negotiation, our free trade efforts involve
two-thirds of the Western Hemisphere’s population.
We in the United States know that
our destiny is intrinsically linked to the well-being of
our neighbors, and that our prosperity depends on their
prosperity. We believe that trade and investment agreements
are the necessary bond for the stronger and closer relationships
that will allow all countries in this hemisphere to realize
their full potential. The signing of our BIT with Uruguay
is one more positive step in this direction."
Related item: United
States, Uruguay sign Bilateral Investment Treaty.