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Welcome to "Ask the Ambassador" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to U.S. Ambassadors around the world.

U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Earl Anthony Wayne, discussed U.S.-Argentina bilateral relations.

Earl Anthony Wayne, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina
Earl Anthony Wayne
U.S. Ambassador to Argentina

Event Date: 10/26/2007

Peter in Washington writes:

Dear Mr. Ambassador, I greatly admire the work you do and I love the country of Argentina. To be honest with you, I want your job! The problem is, I'm only a freshman in college. What type of work and coursework should I engage in so I can be appointed as the ambassador to Argentina in the future?

Ambassador Wayne:

Thank you for your kind words. I don't blame you for wanting my job - it's a great job, and Argentina is a great country, with a rich history and culture. Regarding a future career in diplomacy, there are many paths to the Foreign Service. I have among my staff members here at the Embassy, for example, former academics, lawyers, and business men and women, among many other careers. They all share a strong commitment to serving their country, and they have dedicated themselves to being well informed about international affairs and world developments. I appreciate your interest in the Foreign Service and encourage you to take a look at http://www.state.gov/careers for more information.

Marianne in Argentina writes:

What are the U.S. Embassy's programs for youth in Argentina?

Ambassador Wayne:

Thanks for asking, Marianne. This is one of my favorite topics. In just the last two years, we have launched a number of new initiatives designed specifically to give Argentine youth a deeper understanding of the United States, while at the same time providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a globalized world. Together, the Embassy invests over a million dollars a year in these programs and we hope to expand our efforts. We think it's one of the most important things we do here, and that over the long term, investment in youth programs will contribute significantly to better understanding and relations between Argentina and the United States. Below are summary descriptions of some of our youth programs. For more detailed information consult the Youth Page on our website at: http://argentina.usembassy.gov/programs3.html.

Youth Ambassadors

The Youth Ambassadors Program, an initiative of the U.S. Embassy in Argentina, in partnership with the Fulbright Commission, Partners of the Americas, and public and private organizations in both countries, is designed to send outstanding Argentine secondary school students to the United States for two weeks to learn about U.S. society and culture and to share Argentina's culture with Americans.

Teacher Ambassadors

The U.S. Embassy offers scholarships for secondary school English-language teachers to participate in a two week study program at the Texas International Education Consortium in Austin, Texas. The objective of the program is to strengthen English teaching skills; to learn new ideas regarding pedagogy and methodologies using U.S.-content teaching materials; to foster a better understanding of the U.S.; and to establish ongoing relationships between English teachers in Argentina and the U.S.

Science Camp

The Embassy sponsors the participation of Argentine students in the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia. The Youth Science Camp is an intense residential science education program for young scientists. In a rustic setting, students are challenged academically in exciting lectures and hands-on studies.

Sarmiento-Mann Scholarships

Learning English is beyond the financial capacities of many fine students in Argentina. To remedy this situation, the U.S. Embassy has asked Binational Centers throughout the country to design a micro-scholarship program for top students in their communities who do not have the resources to enroll in an ESL program. This year, the Embassy funded 60 such scholarships.

Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge

This year, the Embassy, with the assistance of Junior Achievement, sponsored the participation of three Argentine students in the Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge (FELC), held at The Jesse Helms Center in Wingate, North Carolina. The FELC program is an effective way to promote students' understanding of business, personal responsibility, and the opportunities available to them in a free enterprise system.

Daniel in Minnesota writes:

Dear Mr. Wayne: Thank you for your service to our country and to Argentina. I am planning on getting married. I was surprised at how difficult it is for us to live together in the U.S.

Ambassador Wayne:

First of all, congratulations on your upcoming marriage and I wish you all the best for the future. You may want to look at the immigration options outlined in the relevant sections of www.travel.state.gov.

Daniel in Minnesota:

Do you know why the U.S. now requires a visa even to visit from Argentina? This has not always been a requirement.

Ambassador Wayne:

Argentine citizens did enjoy visa waiver status from 1997 until 2002 when the Department of Justice determined that Argentina no longer met requirements for inclusion in the program. Since that time, Argentine citizens who qualify typically receive 10-year, multiple-entry visas for temporary visits to the United States -- for tourism or business trips. Currently, over 90% of Argentine visa applicants receive their visas.

Elfriede in Germany writes:

Ambassador Wayne! What do you think are the topics which need to be emphasized within the bilateral relations between the U.S. and Argentina?

Ambassador Wayne:

Thanks for your question. The U.S. maintains a very fluid dialogue with the Argentine government on a wide range of issues. And on many of these issues, the U.S. and Argentina hold similar views. It is on the basis of this convergence of views and mutual interest that we are moving the bilateral relationship forward.

We enjoy excellent cooperation, for example, in areas such as combating trans-national crime, narcotics trafficking, and counter terrorism, and we have very active exchanges in science and technology, judicial reform, and education, among many other areas. In addition, we also have strong commercial links between our two countries. There are nearly 500 U.S. companies in Argentina, and they employ 155,000 Argentines. Many of these U.S. firms are practicing good corporate citizenship; they are actively involved in sponsoring social and educational projects in their communities that have helped improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Argentines.

To sum up, I believe that we have a very positive agenda between our governments, business communities, and civil societies, and the level of cooperation is strong

Cheryl in Pennsylvania writes:

Hello Mr. Ambassador my daughter's college is offering a study abroad in Argentina for Summer. I and I was wondering how the United States relationship is with Argentina, and how safe to you think it would be for her to study there? I appreciate your honest opinion on this matter. Thank you in advance for you response.

Ambassador Wayne:

Dear Cheryl, thanks for your question. As I mention above, we have a positive relationship with Argentina, with good cooperation in many areas. In addition, we share many common interests and values. Personally, I have found Argentines to be very warm and hospitable. There are lots of US students here, and the number seems to be growing every day. Many are on semester abroad programs, and a good number are brushing up their Spanish. Tourism is also booming, with almost 300,000 Americans arriving last year. Of course, we advise all prospective travelers to read the State Department's Consular Information Sheet (CIS) on their country of destination before traveling abroad. The CIS for Argentina is located at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1130.html I encourage you and your daughter to review this document, which is prepared by the Embassy. I think you will find it a valuable resource.

Roy in New York writes:

What is being done to bring the Iranian Terrorists who attacked Jews in Argentina to Justice

Ambassador Wayne:

The terrorist bombings of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in 1994 were two of the first incidents of international terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. It is wrong, however, to characterize these as attacks on only the Jewish population here. Many Argentine citizens of different faiths were victims in these attacks.

The United States commends the Government of Argentina and its judiciary for its resolute pursuit of justice against the perpetrators of the 1994 AMIA bombing. We are prepared to support Argentina's efforts in any way we can. Terrorists must be made to realize that they cannot hide from justice, and that the international community will not tolerate the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians.

We continue to follow developments in this case very closely. You may be aware that the Argentine courts indicted a number of Iranian nationals in connection with the bombing and have asked INTERPOL to issue international capture notices for five of those indictees and one senior Lebanese Hizballah member. INTERPOL's General Assembly will be voting in early November on whether to support its Executive Committee's unanimous recommendation to issue capture notices for these individuals.

The USG strongly supports this course of action and calls on other like-minded governments to support Argentina's efforts. Please rest assured that we will be doing all we can to support the Government of Argentina and the judicial process, to see that the Interpol capture notices are instituted and that governments around the world are aware of the issues.

Steven in Iowa writes:

How friendly are the Argentina people to Americans? Can we live there/move there?

Ambassador Wayne:

As I mentioned above, the Argentines are warm, open and friendly to foreigners, including Americans. In fact, we are seeing increasing numbers of American citizens coming to live and work in Argentina. You may want to refer to these websites for detailed information: www.embassyofargentina.us and www.migraciones.gov.ar . You can also consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet on Argentina, available at www.travel.state.gov.

Martin in Germany writes:

What aspects of the U.S.-Argentina bilateral relations do you think ought to be improved? Is Argentina a relevant part of the fight against terrorism?

Ambassador Wayne:

As I mentioned earlier, we have positive bilateral relations with Argentina, with good cooperation across a wide range of issues. One aspect of the relationship we are working hard to improve is Argentines' understanding and perception of the U.S. We are making every effort to expose people, especially the youth of Argentina, to the real United States through exchange programs, cultural events, and increased contact with Americans. Expanded people-to-people ties will create a strong foundation for the bilateral relationship over the long term. We are also exploring ways to increase opportunities both for study in the U.S., and for studying about the United States in Argentine schools and universities.

Argentina is a relevant actor in combating terrorism. As I noted above, Argentina has twice been the victim of major international terrorist attacks and well understands the need for international cooperation in order to make our citizens safe from terrorist attacks. In addition to pursuing the perpetrators of the murderous attacks on the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA Center, Argentina has taken significant measures to help dismantle the networks that support terrorist operations, such as its approval (the first in the region) of legislation criminalizing terrorist financing.

Stolk in Germany writes:

How is America helping the impoverished citizens of Argentina since the devastation of its economy since ''Black December''?

Ambassador Wayne:

In the aftermath of Argentina's 2001/2 economic crisis, over half of Argentina's population fell below the poverty line and over one third of the population were unemployed. Since then, Argentina has had five consecutive years of remarkable economic recovery, with GDP growth averaging over 8%. The most recent Argentine government statistics show that poverty has been reduced to 23.4% (as of June 2007) and unemployment to 8.5% (also as of June 2007).

While significantly improved, Argentine poverty levels remain too high. The GoA is working through its own institutions and with USG-supported multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, to improve Argentina's social safety net and ensure that all citizens' basic needs are met. In addition, nearly 500 U.S. companies operating in Argentina contribute to the nation's welfare by directly employing 155,000 Argentine citizens, indirectly contributing to the employment of many, and paying significant tax revenues to the Argentine government. Many of them also operate substantial social responsibility programs.

Stolk in Germany:

What are the positive effects of FTAA for Argentina?

Ambassador Wayne:

At the 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Mercosur member nations put FTAA discussions on hold pending the conclusion of the WTO's multilateral Doha Development Round.

In our view, trade is a multiplier that creates wealth, alleviates poverty, and contributes to global prosperity via a virtuous economic circle: More trade leads to increased competition and lower prices, which leads to more jobs and higher real wages, which leads to more demand and increased supply, which leads to more trade. World Bank studies have found that tens of millions of people can be lifted out of poverty through expanded trade.

As a consequence, over the last two decades the U.S. has pursued a large number of new trade initiatives and agreements - multilateral, regional and bilateral. Expanded trade has contributed significantly to U.S. economic growth and the value of goods and services trade accounted for 28% of GDP in 2006, up from 11% in 1970.

For the United States, our top trade priority remains a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of world trade talks, and we believe that the inclusion of services and the reduction of barriers to agricultural trade will allow a significant boost of economic activity in many countries around the world -- countries like the United States and Argentina which have strong competitive advantages in both areas.

Besides our multilateral efforts, we are committed to perusing regional and bilateral trade agreements. We have already completed free trade agreements that cover two-thirds of the hemisphere's GDP. Just since January 2001, we have implemented seven bilateral and regional trade agreements, including a number in this hemisphere. (Jordan, Chile, Singapore, Australia, Morocco, CAFTA-DR, Bahrain. Four others are pending implementation or Congressional approval. (Oman not yet implemented, Peru, Colombia and Panama pending Cong approval). Hemispheric partners are also broadly committed to trade liberalization. They have signed a myriad of trade agreements with each other, with us and with countries outside the hemisphere.

Marianne in Argentina writes:

What are the main commercial programs of the U.S. Embassy in Argentina?

What are the latest commercial agreements between U.S. and Argentina?

Ambassador Wayne:

Our Embassy's Commercial Section is responsible for assisting U.S. companies doing business in, and exporting to Argentina.

Their main priorities are:

  • Counsel U.S. firms on the details of the Argentine market.
  • Conduct thorough market research on specific industry sectors and relevant commercial topics.
  • Provide matchmaking opportunities for U.S. firms via their many programs and services. Specifically, to help U.S. companies find the appropriate partners in the Argentine market.
  • Advocate on behalf of U.S. Companies, when appropriate.

In addition to these core programs, the Commercial Section takes the lead in organizing and conducting Commercial Outreach programs throughout the country. This often includes highlighting U.S. companies Corporate Social Responsibility programs.

For specific details on the Foreign Commercial Service in Argentina, I would recommend you visit their website at http://www.comercioUSA.org.

Marianne in Argentina:

What are the latest commercial agreements between U.S. and Argentina?

Ambassador Wayne:

On July 3, 2007, Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Enrique Taiana and I signed a landmark civil aviation agreement that amended our current bilateral Air Transport Service Agreement. This agreement allows expanded air service between the two countries. This agreement should provide significant benefits to both countries - creating new jobs, new opportunities for tourism and more opportunities for citizens of both countries to get to know each other. The new amendments:

  • Immediately increased the number of weekly passenger frequencies that U.S. and Argentine airlines may operate bCounsel U.S. firms etween the two countries from 56 to 77 and, by March 2009, double the number of frequencies to 112;
  • Will increase by 2009 the number of American cities Argentine airlines may serve from nine to 14;
  • Significantly expanded the route rights for Argentine carriers on their U.S.-connected service to destinations in Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Europe and Asia;
  • Allow an unlimited number of charter flights between the two countries; and,
  • Modernize the existing agreement's provisions on aviation security and pricing.

This agreement will also likely be a significant boost to the already dynamic Argentine tourism industry, which recorded a total of about 4.5 million arrivals in 2006, a 14% increase from 2005. Nearly 300,000 Americans visited Argentina in 2006.

Similarly, we look forward to more Argentines traveling to the US for tourism and business. In 2006, there were 212,000 Argentine arrivals to the U.S., an increase of 3.7% from 2005, according to the Department of Commerce.

The proposed amendments affect only passenger service. The United States and Argentina concluded an Open Skies agreement for cargo service in 2000.

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