Today President Barack Obama hosted Uruguayan President Jose Mujica Cordano at the White House. Their visit underscored the close partnership between the United States and Uruguay, founded on shared democratic values, and our desire to deepen economic ties and increase exchanges on social issues, as well as our strong cooperation in the following areas:
Economic Opportunities and Trade Facilitation
· Increasing Trade and Investment: The 2005 U.S.-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty and 2007 U.S.-Uruguay Trade and Investment Framework Agreement continue to benefit both nations. Bilateral trade increased to $2.2 billion in total goods trade in 2013. Exports of U.S. goods to Uruguay totaled $1.8 billion in 2013, an increase of 438 percent from 2003. And imports of Uruguayan goods to the United States totaled $423 million, an increase of 65 percent since 2003.
· Trade and Investment Council Meeting: The United States and Uruguay convened its Trade and Investment Council Meeting on the margins of the meeting between President Obama and President Mujica. The Council meeting is part of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and focused on trade facilitation, market access for agricultural products, trade in services, intellectual property rights, small and medium business cooperation, labor cooperation, and international trade agreements and arrangements. Both countries expressed satisfaction with improvements in customs modernization, the recent granting of Uruguayan market access to U.S. poultry and beef and of U.S. market access to Uruguayan citrus and deboned lamb.
· Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement: The United States and Uruguay will sign a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) on the sidelines of President Obama and President Mujica’s meeting. CMAAs provide the legal framework to allow for the exchange of information and evidence to assist countries in the prevention, detection, and investigation of customs offenses – including those associated with duty evasion, trafficking, proliferation, money laundering, and terrorism-related activities. Uruguay is the 69th country to sign a CMAA with the United States.
Global Security, Human Rights, and Social Inclusion
· Peacekeeping: Uruguay consistently deploys roughly 10 percent of its armed forces to UN peacekeeping missions, making it one of the world’s largest per capita troop contributors. The United States applauds Uruguay’s leadership and contributions to global security, and is committed to continuing its support for Uruguayan peacekeeping deployments. Since 2008, the United States has provided $9.6 million through the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) to expand and enhance Uruguayan peacekeeping operation training centers, as well as provide Uruguayan units pre-deployment training, communications gear, vehicles, night vision devices, aviation equipment, and patrol boats. GPOI support has helped enable Uruguay to fulfill critical missions in the U.N. peacekeeping missions in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In fiscal year 2014, the United States has committed to providing an additional $3.1 million in GPOI funds to further augment Uruguayan peacekeeping capabilities.
· Social Inclusion: Recognizing the democratic, multi-ethnic, and multi-racial nature of U.S. and Uruguayan societies, the United States and Uruguay have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Promote Racial, Ethnic, and Social Equality. The MOU underscores our mutual commitment to protecting and defending human rights, which are essential to preserving peace, promoting democracy and advancing prosperity around the world. The United States and Uruguay will collaborate to promote cooperation and exchange information in areas such as increased access to education at all levels, equal protection under the law and access to the legal system, improved enforcement of domestic anti-discrimination laws and policy, and increased access to healthcare, credit, and job training.
Education, Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Opportunities·
· Educational Exchange: The United States and Uruguay are working together to expand educational opportunities for students from both our countries in support of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which is focused on dramatically increasing study abroad in the hemisphere. Through new and existing programs, we are working to strengthen academic partnerships and spark entrepreneurship and innovation. We put special emphasis on building connections between Uruguayan and American youth from diverse backgrounds. Recent visits have brought Uruguayan policy makers and evaluation specialists who are working on redesigning Uruguay’s accountability and evaluation systems. In addition, communications deans from Uruguay’s principal universities visited to learn about how new technologies can enhance curriculums, encourage citizen journalism, and strengthen civil society. In September 2013, and planned again for September 2014, the United States facilitated the participation of 27 U.S. universities in an educational fair in Uruguay that attracted roughly 2,000 students interested in studying in the United States. Uruguay has committed to increase its contribution to the Fulbright scholarship program to $1.5 million in 2014, and to provide $500,000 annually going forward.
Science and Technology Joint Consultative Meeting: The United States and Uruguay held a Science and Technology Joint Consultative Meeting before President Obama and President Mujica’s meeting. The Joint Consultative Meeting allowed both governments to assess opportunities for future collaboration on research exchanges, water quality mapping, wildlife research, and earth sciences. Participants highlighted the inclusion of Uruguay in the Science Envoy Program in August 2014. On health issues, participants discussed ongoing and potential new collaboration in public health, biomedical and behavioral health research, activities within the U.S.-Latin America Cancer Research Network, best practices to address non-communicable diseases, and the potential for U.S. National Institutes of Health to host Uruguayan post-doctoral fellows. The United States also committed to providing funding that will triple the size of the U.S.-Uruguay Teacher Exchange Program, which brings Uruguayan teachers to the United States to improve their English teaching skills by living and working with American teachers.
Source: White House