United States – Iceland Memorandum for Economic Cooperation

29 Oct

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following Memorandum for Economic Cooperation was released by the Governments of the United States of America and Iceland at the conclusion of the second United States-Iceland Economic Partnership Dialogue, held October 27, 2020.

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Iceland and the United States of America held their second Bilateral Economic Partnership Dialogue virtually on October 27, 2020. The two countries focused on their shared commitment to further build upon the existing strong bilateral economic ties and mutual strategic cooperation. They also decided to jointly address global challenges of mutual concern. In this spirit, the two countries adopt this Memorandum for Economic Cooperation in pursuit of closer economic and strategic ties.

I. Introduction

The United States and Iceland share deep historic ties, common values, and a strong economic relationship. The United States is proud to be the first country to recognize Icelandic independence in 1944.

Building on our bilateral trade and investment volumes of over $1 billion, we intend to work together to further expand commerce and investment between our countries.

Through increased commercial ties and economic opportunities, we aim to amplify innovation and productivity leading to job creation in both nations.

In an effort to strengthen our economies fighting to recover from a global pandemic, our goal is to find joint collaboration opportunities that include everyone in the benefits of economic growth.

We recognize the importance of an open and transparent policy framework which encourages cross-border investment and enables fair competition.

As founding members of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we are committed to member-driven missions to strengthen cooperation for international organizations.

II. Modernizing and Protecting Critical Infrastructure

A world increasingly connected through technology, travel, and trade, needs modern infrastructure to create economic opportunity.

We recognize the importance of mitigating risks to global supply chains and the importance of protecting critical infrastructure, particularly cyber communications networks. We, therefore, emphasize the necessity of a 5G ecosystem based on free and fair competition, transparency, and the rule of law.

We recognize the importance of using effective tools to address potential national security risks arising from cross-border investment, while not deterring benign foreign investment that will be critical for returning to strong economic growth.

III. Trade Relations

The long-standing economic relationship between the United States and Iceland is strong and has been steadily growing in past years. Despite the strong bilateral relations, the benefit of even greater economic cooperation, increased trade and investment, and elimination of trade barriers, will enhance economic growth and encourage increased productivity for both countries. Trade in services and investment is increasing and plays an important role in our trade relations. We intend to continue to explore ways to enhance cooperation on trade and investment.

IV. Travel, Tourism and Exchanges

We intend to promote travel and tourism between our two nations highlighting cultural ties. We further propose to encourage academic, student, professional, and culture exchanges resulting in a better shared understanding between our populations.

V. Energy Diversification

Energy security and diversification of energy sources underpin the national security and economies of our two countries. Iceland’s global leadership on cutting-edge geothermal technologies, paired with the United States’ innovation in energy efficiency and world class service sector, present unique opportunities for cooperation in the energy sector. We intend to cooperate on sustainable, clean and efficient energy technologies, such as hydropower and geothermal.

VI. Scientific and Technology Cooperation

We are committed to advancing bilateral cooperation in scientific research and higher education partnerships by expanding opportunities for scientists’ collaborations in priority areas, including marine environment and natural resource protection, health, renewable energy and emerging technologies, including in scientific computing. Both sides also anticipate safeguarding sensitive research in science and technology, highlighting the importance of the inclusion of the private sector, scientific institutions, universities and think tanks in further exploring ways to cooperate in these fields with the aim of encouraging investments and innovation in new technology.

VII. Women’s Economic Empowerment

Both countries have made the empowerment of women in the economy a high priority. We expect to continue our cooperation on promoting women’s economic empowerment, sharing best practices and highlighting national platforms promoting entrepreneurship and economic opportunities for women, including in our respective foreign policies.

VIII. Arctic Cooperation

As member states of the Arctic Council, we seek to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace, stability and cooperation. Both countries intend to work together within the Arctic Council to enhance sustainable development, environmental protection, and the well-being and security of the people living in the region.

Our two countries aim to advance our bilateral cooperation in the Arctic, including in pursuing new opportunities for scientific collaboration, trade and commerce.

IX. Conclusion

The United State and Iceland are committed to continuing cooperation in all the above and anticipate that the annual Economic Dialogue will be a forum in which these and other issues of mutual interest will be taken forward and addressed.

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Public Designation of Current and Former Members of the Guatemalan Congress Due to Involvement in Significant Corruption

28 Oct

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Today, I am announcing the designation of First Secretary in the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, Felipe Alejos Lorenzana, and former Deputy Delia Bac, due to their involvement in significant corruption.  Mr. Alejos’ and Ms. Bac’s corruption has undermined the rule of law and the Guatemalan public’s faith in their government and their country’s democratic institutions and public processes.  While acting in his official capacity as a deputy in the Guatemalan Congress, Mr. Alejos was involved in corrupt acts to enrich himself, while also seriously harming U.S. businesses’ international economic activity.  In her official capacity as a deputy from 2008 to 2020, Ms. Bac was involved in corrupt acts including using her political influence for the personal enrichment and advancement of herself and her family.

These designations are made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94).  Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

The law also requires the Secretary of State to either publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members.  In addition to Mr. Alejos, the Department is publicly designating his spouse, Maria Ximena Morales de Alejos, and his minor sons.

These designations reaffirm the commitment of the United States to combating corruption in Guatemala.  We stand with the Guatemalan people in this fight.  The Department will continue to use these legal authorities to promote accountability for corrupt actors who operate with impunity in the region and globally.

For more information, please contact INL-PAPD@state.gov.