Uruguay: Social Security Treaty Talks Concluded in Record Time

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By David Haskel

June 1—The U.S. and Uruguay completed social security treaty talks in record time May 15, producing a text both for the treaty and for its implementing regulations, Labor Minister Ernesto Murro announced on the presidential website May 22.

In the fastest negotiation of an international deal on record for the South American country, the two sides concluded in just two rounds of talks held over a six-month period negotiations typically demanding two to three years.

The texts contained in the treaty's Final Act and hammered out during five days of talks in Baltimore will now be sent to the U.S. State Department and to Uruguay's Labor Ministry for review and then to both nations' legislative branches for final approval and implementation, the presidential website statement said.

The two sides agreed to pursue the pact when then Uruguayan leader Jose Mujica met with President Obama in Washington in May 2014. The first round of talks was held in December in Uruguay.

The agreement would allow Uruguayans working in the U.S. and Americans working in Uruguay to accumulate working years for their home-country retirement benefits. Under the deal, each country would pay a portion of retirement benefits relative to the number of years an employee has worked on its territory.

Close Uruguay-U.S. Ties

The implementation of the treaty would make Uruguay the second South American country after Chile to have such a pact with the U.S.

The agreement would boost mutual investments and simplify work benefits management for the 5,000 Americans living in Uruguay and the 50,000 Uruguayans living in the U.S., Murro said.

With the U.S. among the three countries with the most investments in Uruguay, “it is important to have instruments that protect migrant workers and senior staff,” Murro said.

Uruguay and the U.S. already have a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and a Bilateral Investment Treaty in place. The Uruguayan government has also sought a free trade agreement with Washington, but its partners in the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) have blocked the move, saying bloc members are not allowed to go solo on such deals.

Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, who was sworn in on March 1, made the initial FTA proposal in 2006, during a previous five-year term in office, and Economy Minister Danilo Astori relaunched those efforts last year, calling on Uruguay's Mercosur partners to adopt a more flexible approach and let his country “open up to the world” and pursue trade opportunities outside the bloc.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Haskel in Buenos Aires at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The presidential website posting is available at http://www.presidencia.gub.uy/comunicacion/comunicacionnoticias/murro-convenio-bilateral-seguridad-social-texto-reglamentacion, additional information on the Foreign Ministry website at http://www.mrree.gub.uy/frontend/page?1,inicio,ampliacion-ppal2,O,es,0,PAG;CONC;1961;15;D;convenio-bilateral-y-acuerdo-administrativo-de-implementacion-entre-el-banco-de-prevision-social-y-la-administracion-de-seguridad-de-eeuu;4;PAG, both in Spanish.

For more information on Uruguayan HR law and regulation, see the Uruguay primer.