Ambassador Sepulveda sharing his views and the benefits of competition to a healthy digital economy during his recent trip to Argentina. [State Department photo]

Increasing the Connectivity between the United States and Argentina

By: Daniel Sepulveda, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB).

Flying back from Buenos Aires with my friend and colleague, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, I was filled with gratitude. Chairman Wheeler, our dynamic Ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet, and the rest of our American colleagues from the Department of Commerce, FCC, and State Department succeeded in making this latest trip to Latin America one of our best. The Chairman’s expertise and experience, combined with the incredible energy and rapport that Ambassador Mamet has established with our Argentine counterparts enabled us to engage honestly and at both a high level and in great detail on telecommunications issues that are critical to our shared interests and future prosperity.

Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet, and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler pose for a photo during recent trip to Argentina. [State Department photo]

The people of Argentina have the talent, resources, and ability to compete in and contribute to the economic and digital development of the region and the world. The United States wants to help them unleash that potential, which is why we have designated Argentina as a focus country under the Global Connect Initiative, a program to help connect the unconnected.

A strong, connected, and open world is in both of our countries interests.

In helping expand access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and telecommunications technologies, we are helping to increase access to education, healthcare, agriculture and economic opportunities for people previously left behind.Improving access to global markets enables all of us to be more prosperous and thus not only expand markets for our businesses, but also ideas, which helps the United States and our partners not only economically but also from a broader perspective of our national interests.

Ambassador Noah Mamet, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers of Argentina Marcos Peña, Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda and Oscar Aguad, Argentine Minister of Communications during the new Digital Economy Working Group meeting in Argentina. [State Department photo]

Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his administration have sent the message that Argentina is open for business and eager to engage. This first meeting of our new Digital Economy Working Group is the State Department Office of International Communication and Information Policy’s effort to do its part to welcome and respond to that message. We found President Macri’s team to be frank, friendly, energetic, and ambitious in its plans. The administration’s experts on digital economy issues have political skill and experience as well as technical skill and depth of knowledge about how the private sector works. Our partners in the newly-formed Working Group include Argentine Minister of Communications Oscar Aguad; Clarisa Estol, Secretary for Investment Promotion of the Ministry; Hector Huici, Secretary of Information and Communications Technology; and Miguel De Godoy, President of the National Communications Agency of Argentina (ENACOM).

Ambassador Sepulveda and Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers of Argentina Marcos Peña speaking over lunch about the importance of investment and economic growth opportunities with the Digital Economy. [State Department photo]

We discussed what kind of regulatory and policy environment enhances competition and creates incentives for increased investment in the communications sector as well as how we can work together on a bilateral and multilateral basis to ensure that the benefits of the Internet reach every community. The Argentine delegation presented its plan to create a competitive telecommunications market and provide the necessary incentives for foreign investment in Argentina. They explained how the process for constructing policy and executing on it would be open, transparent, and inclusive. We offered technical assistance and both agreed to share best practices.

FCC Chairman Wheeler shares some of the lessons learned by the United States during the meetings in Argentina. [State Department photo]

As we move forward, our two governments will continue to work together to jointly develop a Global Connect Initiative work plan for Argentina. We will also increase our cooperation under the Memorandum of Understanding between the FCC and ENACOM on matters ranging from spectrum management to satellite issues and encourage participation by Argentine technical experts in United States Telecommunications Training Institute courses. The plan will promote the multi-stakeholder consultative process already begun by the Macri Administration to include development banks, the private sector, and other multilateral and multi-stakeholder organizations in the promotion of increased connectivity in Argentina.

High level Members of the United States and Argentine Delegations during the recent trip to Buenos Aires. [State Department photo]

As we return home from a successful trip, we extend our gratitude and a hand of friendship to the people of Argentina and their representatives. We look forward to building on this excellent foundation and increasing the connectivity between our peoples — literally and figuratively.

Editor’s Note: This adaptation of this entry also appears on DipNote, the State Department’s official blog.