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United States-Argentina Bilateral Council on Trade and Investment Meeting, February 20, 2002

Joint Statement, February 22, 2002

Ambassador Peter Allgeier, Deputy United States Trade Representative, and Ambassador Martin Redrado, Argentine Secretary for Trade, International Economic Relations and Consular Affairs, convened on February 20 the first meeting of the United States-Argentina "Bilateral Council on Trade and Investment" ("Council"). The Council will serve as a means of fostering the two countries' reciprocal trade and investment interests and strengthening coordination in multilateral and regional trade liberalization efforts. The overarching goal is to promote sustainable economic growth through better market access and freer trade. The Council has established working groups on Steel and Market Access.

During the meeting, Ambassadors Allgeier and Redrado reaffirmed their governments' commitment to promoting trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations, and the Four Plus One process between the United States and Mercosur. They confirmed that the next Vice-Minister level meeting of the Four Plus One will take place April 15-16 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On the FTAA, Ambassadors Allgeier and Redrado agreed that the Vice Ministers need to develop a set of guiding principles at the April Trade Negotiations Committee meeting in Venezuela in order to launch the FTAA market access negotiations by May 2002.

Ambassadors Allgeier and Redrado also reviewed the issues raised during a February 19 meeting of the Council's Working Group on Steel. They discussed bilateral trade issues, with the goal of increasing trade between the United States and Argentina, and concurred that enhanced market access is a critical component to economic growth and prosperity. They also agreed to continue to coordinate efforts in multilateral fora to promote and support the use of biotechnology, particularly with regards to its potential benefits to farmers and consumers.

The United States and Argentina plan to hold future meetings of the Council on a regular basis. The next meeting is planned for April 17 of this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.