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Uruguay, US sign bilateral trade treaty

Associated Press

Uruguay, U.S. Sign Bilateral Trade Treaty

25 October 2004

Uruguay and the United States signed a bilateral trade agreement Monday to safeguard foreign business investments in each other’s countries while promoting trade and exports.

U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Peter F. Allgeier praised the treaty as a key step step toward lowering trade barriers and opening new markets to businesses in both countries.

"This agreement levels the playing field and ensures that Americans are treated equitably by increasing protection for U.S. investments in this South American nation," Allgeier said. "This agreement will also deepen our economic relationship with Uruguay, thus encouraging two-way trade."

Trade between the United States and Uruguay totaled US$582 million (euro455 million) in 2003, U.S. statistics showed, and included U.S. shipments of machinery, medical instruments, cosmetics and other goods.

Meanwhile, Uruguay has exported meat, dairy products, honey, fish and seafood to the United States as part of trade between the two nations that has continued to rise in the first months of 2004.

The treaty’s signing came after both nations pledged in November 2003 at the conclusion of a Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meeting in Miami to negotiate toward a bilateral treaty. The talks concluded last month.

Some 39 countries worldwide have similar bilateral investment treaties with the United States.

Uruguay’s economy minister hailed the agreement, saying it would aid Uruguay as it recovers from its worst economic crisis in history. In 2002, the economy was badly shaken by financial upheaval in neighboring Argentina but has since begun growing again.

"For Uruguay, this is a very special day and we believe we are making an important step forward in consolidating our investment relations with an economic superpower," said Isaac Alfie, Uruguay’s ministry of economy and finance.

The move came after the two countries last week signed an "Open Skies" agreement intended to spur greater benefits for air travelers and commercial aviation.