“First Impressions”

Published in La Nacion (in Spanish)

It is a great honor for me to represent President Obama, and the American people, as the United States Ambassador in Argentina. In only six short weeks since my arrival I have been remarkably impressed with the people I meet every day. From political and business leaders, to the students I greet before they travel on exchange programs, I see immense talent, enthusiasm and drive. These encounters have left me enormously optimistic about the future of Argentina, as well as our bilateral relationship.

I have also been struck by the culture and diversity of the country. I enjoy living in the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, and have toured dynamic universities, visited hi-tech laboratories, and had my first look at the Andes in Bariloche. As a lifelong soccer fan, I was especially excited to attend my first superclásico.

The people of the Unites States and Argentina have much in common: many of our ancestors came from other countries, seeking freedom and a new life. Both of our countries fought to gain their independence and to address different political and economic challenges throughout our histories. Both are democracies, committed to creating opportunities and building a better life for our people.

Before departing for Argentina, I discussed with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry the opportunities I see to strengthen our bilateral relationship. They urged me to continue expanding our cooperation and collaboration in key areas where the interests of our two countries clearly coincide. To me, that means increasing connectivity between Americans and Argentines, not just through bilateral government programs and trade, but through people to people contact as well.

We look forward to greater collaboration in crucial areas like science and technology, energy, trade, education and culture.  In fact, in just the last two weeks the United States and Argentina have signed three valuable agreements in these areas.

One of these agreements was signed on February 19th between the head of NASA and Minister De Vido for CONAE. The agreement is for Argentine and American scientists to collaborate on research that uses data from satellites to better understand the sun and space weather and how they can affect life on earth. This is the type of collaboration I believe we should do more of in order to deepen the ties between our two countries.

A week later, I met with AFIP Administrator Echegaray to establish a bilateral trade transparency unit between our two countries. And the next day, Minister Kiciloff and I signed the Paris Club repayment plan, paving the way for a closer economic relationship. Concluding this agreement marks a crucially important step towards a more positive economic agenda between our countries.

Scientific collaborations and economic opportunities are clearly important, but the one area that is most vital to both of our countries in the long term is education. Our shared values and common experiences are the bedrock of our strong relationship, and I believe that educational exchanges are the best way to increase connectivity in the long run. Every year 5,000 American students come to study in Argentina and over 2,500 Argentines go study in the U.S.  I want to dramatically increase both of these numbers, and will make it a personal goal of mine to see our governments and the private sector offer more scholarships and exchange opportunities to students from both countries.

The outlook for our relationship is indeed positive.  We share a long history, and I see significant opportunities to build on established partnerships and to create new ones that respond to shared interests, challenges, and opportunities for both countries. I envision a future in which our two countries work together to address common challenges and create new opportunities for progress in education, science, technology, energy and the arts to build a better future together.