U.S. Department of State  
Background Notes: Argentina, September 1997 
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.

OFFICIAL NAME: The Argentine Republic

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

Area: 2.8 million sq. km (1.1 million sq. mi.); about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River; second largest country in South America. 
Cities: Capital--Buenos Aires (city: 3 million; metropolitan area: 12 million). Other major cities: Cordoba (1.2 million); Rosario (950,000); Mar del Plata (900,000); Mendoza (400,000) 
Terrain: Andes mountains and foothills in west. Aconcagua, (7,021 m; 23,034 ft) is highest peak in the Western Hemisphere; remainder of country is lowland; central region characterized by vast grassy plains (pampas). 
Climate: Varied: predominantly temperate with extremes ranging from subtropical in the north to arid/subantarctic in far south.

PEOPLE

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Argentine(s). 
Population (mid-1995: 34.6 million. 
Annual population growth rate: 1.3%.  
Ethnic groups: European 97% , mostly of Spanish and Italian descent.

Religions: Roman Catholic 92% , Protestant 2% , Jewish 2% , other 4%. 
Language: Spanish. 
Education: Years compulsory--7; Adult literacy--96.2%.  
Health: Infant mortality rate--23.6/1000. Life expectancy of newborns: 72.3 years. 
Work Force: Industry and commerce--36% , agriculture--19% , transport and communications--6%.

GOVERNMENT

Type: Republic. Independence: July 9, 1816. 
Constitution: 1853, revised 1994. 
Branches: Executive--president, vice president, cabinet.  
Legislative--bicameral congress (72-member Senate, 257-member Chamber of Deputies). 
Judicial--Supreme Court, federal and provincial trial courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 23 provinces and one federal capital district. 
Political Parties: Justicialist, Radical Civic Union, FREPASO, numerous smaller national and provincial parties. 
Suffrage: universal adult.

ECONOMY (1997 projections)

GDP: $292 billion. 
Annual real growth rate: 5% . 
Per capita GDP: $8,500. 
Natural resources: Fertile plains (pampas). Minerals: lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron, manganese, oil, uranium.
Agriculture (7% of GDP, about 60% of exports by value) Products--grains, oilseeds and by-products, livestock products. 
Industry (26% of GDP), Types--food processing, oil refining, machinery and equipment, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals.  
Trade: Exports--$24.5 billion: grains, meats, oilseeds, manufactured products; Major markets--Brazil 25% ; U.S. 11% ; EU 25% .Imports--$25.5 billion: machinery, vehicles and transport products, chemicals. Major suppliers--U.S. 23% , Brazil 20% , EU 28% . 

U.S.-ARGENTINE RELATIONS

The United States and Argentina currently enjoy a close bilateral relationship, although this has not always been the case. The efforts of the Menem Administration to open Argentina's economy and realign its foreign policy have contributed to the improvement in these relations, and the interests and policies of the two countries coincide on many issues. Argentina and the United States often vote together in the United Nations and other multilateral fora. Argentina has participated in many multilateral force deployments mandated by the United Nations Security Council, including recent missions to Haiti and the former Yugoslavia. Reflecting the growing partnership that marks ties between the two countries, on December 5, 1996, President Clinton and Argentine President Menem announced the establishment of a special consultative process to address important issues in the bilateral relationship.

U.S. Embassy Functions 
The U.S. Mission in Buenos Aires carries out the traditional diplomatic function of representing the United States Government and people in discussions with the Argentine Government, and more generally, in relations with the people of Argentina. The excellent political relationship between the United States and Argentina is increasingly reflected in the U.S. embassy's efforts to facilitate cooperation in nontraditional areas such as counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, and scientific cooperation on space, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the environment. 

The Embassy also provides a wide range of services to U.S. citizens and businesses in Argentina. Officers from the U.S. Foreign Service, Foreign Commercial Service and Foreign Agricultural Service work closely with the thousands of U.S. companies which maintain offices and/or do business in Argentina, providing information on Argentine trade and industry regulations and assisting U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Argentina. Attaches accredited to Argentina from the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal agencies work closely with Argentine counterparts on issues related to international crime and other issues of concern.

An active, sophisticated, and expanding media environment, together with growing positive interest in American culture and society, make Argentina an uncommonly receptive environment for the information and cultural-exchange work of the United States Information Service. The number of Argentines studying in U.S. universities is rapidly growing, and the Fulbright fellowship program has more than tripled the annual number of U.S. and Argentine academic grantees since 1994.

The embassy's consular section provides vital services to the more than 20,000 U.S. citizens resident in Argentina as well as to the more than 330,000 who visit Argentina annually. Services include issuing passports, documenting the birth of U.S. citizens abroad, assisting in participation in U.S. elections by registered voters, offering tax and Social Security information, assisting U.S. citizens arrested and/or in jail in Argentina and provision of other services in the event of death, destitution, or other emergencies abroad. 

Principal U.S. Embassy Officers 
Ambassador-vacant
Charge d'Affaires, a.i.--Ronald D. Godard 
Deputy Chief of Mission--Manuel Rocha
Political Counselor--Mark A. Sigler 
Economic Counselor--Thomas H. Martin 
Commercial Counselor--Michael Likila 
Consul General--Bryant J. Salter 
Science Counselor--Philip Covington 
Administrative Counselor--Benjamin Castro 
Defense Attache--Col. Jeffrey W. Whisenhunt, USAF 
Commander, U.S. Military Group--LTC (P) Clark Lynn III, USA 
Public Affairs Officer--Alexander Almasov

The U.S. embassy and consulate general in Argentina are located at 4300 Colombia Avenue in Buenos Aires' Palermo district. Mission offices can be reached at tel. (54)(1)777-4533/34; fax (54)(1)777-0197. Mailing addresses are: U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, APO AA 34034; or 4300 Colombia, 1425 Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

ECONOMY

In 1989, after decades of economic decline and chronic bouts of inflation, Argentina under President Menem began an unprecedented, profound, and remarkably successful economic restructuring based on trade liberalization, privatization, public administrative reform, and macroeconomics stabilization. 

The 1991 Convertibility Law established a quasi-currency board which has provided the pillar of price stability but constrains monetary policy severely. The government privatized most state-controlled companies, opened the economy to foreign trade and investment, improved tax collection, and created private pension and workers compensation systems.

Average annual GDP growth exceeded 7% from 1991 to 1994, driven primarily by consumption. GDP declined 4.4% in 1995, and grew just 3.5% in 1996, primarily due to local recession which followed the December 1994 Mexico peso devaluation. 

The structural reforms--coupled with monetary stability--fostered major new investments in industrial sectors producing goods for exports. This was most notable in the food products, oil and gas, automotive, and mining and metals sectors. As a result, Argentina's exports doubled in only two years--from about $12 billion in 1994 to almost $24 billion in 1996. Foreign direct investment continues growing impressively. GDP growth projections for 1997 range from 5.0% to 6.1% .

The October 1996 unemployment rate was 17.3%--down from 18.4% in mid-1995. As economic recovery gathers momentum in 1997, unemployment is expected to drop by at least two percentage points. However, larger and more significant declines will come slowly over the longer term.

Argentina is vulnerable to abrupt changes in capital flows. However, strong leadership and earlier structural reforms helped the country weather the 1995-96 financial storm. Argentine authorities, supported by the U.S., Japan, Europe, and international financial institutions, reacted decisively to bolster the peso. The government has continued to demonstrate credibility through further economic adjustment and conclusion of a new Standby Agreement with the International Monetary Fund in April 1996. Argentina is currently negotiating with the IMF to replace the Standby Agreement with an Extended Fund Facility arrangement.

Argentina's principal economic policy challenges in 1997 are:
1. Stimulating job creation through labor market reform; 
2. Continuing the reform of provincial administration and banking; and  
3. Simplifying tax collection and combating tax evasion. 

Other structural problems include perceptions of widespread corruption, and of an ineffective judicial system.

Banking 
Continuing the consolidation of Argentina's banking system is a government priority for 1997. Peso and dollar deposits in the banking system grew strongly and reached $55 billion by year end 1996. This represents nearly a 50% increase from June 1995, when bank deposits reached a low of $37 billion as a result of the Mexican peso crisis. However, increased liquidity in the banking system in 1996 did not translate quickly into increased lending. Credit is still very expensive in Argentina, and consumer confidence is weak.

The government continues to encourage privatization of financially troubled provincial banks, but progress has been mixed. Some provincial governments fear job losses and strongly oppose bank privatization. Government-owned banks still have an extremely large market share, and the financial sector stands to suffer as a result.

Foreign Trade 
An important development in helping Argentina meet its external payments is the dramatic turnaround in its trade balance in 1995, which reversed merchandise trade deficits of 1993 and 1994. Year-end data suggested that Argentina balanced imports and exports for 1996. Total merchandise exports in 1996--close to $24 billion--are approximately 10% above those in 1995. Foreign trade will play an increasingly important role in Argentina's economic development. At present, exports represent only about 8% of Argentina's GDP, far below the Latin American average of 16.6%. That percentage is certain to rise steadily and substantially as Argentine export competitiveness improves.

Exceptionally strong international prices for grain and dairy products greatly benefited Argentina in 1996. Some grain prices went down, but Argentina registered bumper harvests.

MERCOSUR, a regional customs union and emerging trade bloc which includes Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and has associations with Chile and Bolivia, improved industrial productivity, and economic stabilization in Brazil have all contributed to the dynamic growth of Argentina's foreign trade. Most notably, Argentina's exports to Brazil (over 25% of total exports) totaling about $6.3 billion, were 70% above the level in 1994.

Argentina's trade with the other members of MERCOSUR has grown fivefold since 1991. (During that period, its total foreign trade doubled.) As a consequence, Argentina's MERCOSUR partners accounted for one-third of Argentina's exports during 1996.

Argentina's trade and investment have tremendous potential to grow along with hemispheric economic integration. Macroeconomic stability in Brazil and continued strength of the Brazilian Real are important variables for Argentina's foreign trade in 1997. On an upbeat note, Chile's association with MERCOSUR, as of October. 1, 1996, improved access for Argentine exports to East Asia via Chilean ports.

The U.S. registered trade surpluses with Argentina from 1993 to 1996 totaling nearly $11 billion. The surplus is expected to increase by $2 billion for 1997--due in large part to Argentina's continued demand for capital goods as well as the recovery of the domestic economy. This reflects the Argentine Government's policy of encouraging modernization and improved competitiveness for Argentine industry.

Argentina adheres to most treaties and international agreements on intellectual property. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and signed the Uruguay Round agreements in December 1993--including measures related to intellectual property. However, extension of adequate patent protection to pharmaceuticals has been a highly contentious bilateral issue. In January 1997, the U.S. announced it would suspend 50% of Argentina's GSP benefits because of its unsatisfactory pharmaceutical patent law.

Investment U.S. direct investment in Argentina, an estimated $10 billion in mid-1996, is concentrated in telecommunications, banking, electric energy generation, gas and petroleum production, food processing, and motor vehicle manufacturing. Additional direct U.S. investment of $2 billion is expected in 1997.

The U.S. and Argentina have an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement and an active U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIMBANK) program. Total EXIMBANK exposure in Argentina approaches $2.5 billion, and the OPIC portfolio is approaching the country limit.

The Argentine Government has announced privatization of the postal service, which already competes with several large private mail companies. There are also plans to privatize many of Argentina's airports, including Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, by September 1997.

Under the 1994 U.S.-Argentine bilateral investment treaty, U.S. investors enjoy national treatment in all sectors except shipbuilding, fishing, nuclear power generation, and uranium production. The treaty allows for international arbitration of investment disputes.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

After years of instability, Argentina is today a fully functioning democracy. During President Carlos Menem's first term (1989-1995), he dramatically reordered Argentina's foreign and domestic policies. His overwhelming reelection in May 1995--in the face of hardships caused by economic restructuring and exacerbated by the Mexico peso crisis--provided a mandate for his free market economic strategy and pro-U.S. foreign policy. Menem's second term ends in July 1999; the constitution does not provide for a sitting president to succeed himself more than once.

The constitution of 1853, as revised in 1994, mandates a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches at the national and provincial level. Each province also has its own constitution which roughly mirrors the structure of the national constitution.

The president and vice president were traditionally elected indirectly by an electoral college to a single six-year term. They were not allowed immediately to seek reelection. Constitutional reforms adopted in August 1994 reduced the presidential term to four years, abolished the electoral college in favor of direct election, and allowed a sitting president to stand for reelection after his or her first term. Cabinet ministers are appointed by the president. The constitution grants the president considerable power, including a line-item veto. 

Provinces traditionally sent two senators, elected by provincial legislatures, to the upper house of Congress. Voters in the federal capital of Buenos Aires elected an electoral college which elected the city's senators. The constitution now mandates a transition to direct election for all senators, and the addition of a third senator from each province and the capital. The third senator will represent the electoral district's largest minority party. The revised constitution reduces senatorial terms from nine to six years in office. One third of the Senate stands for reelection every three years. 

Members of the Chamber of Deputies are directly elected to four-year terms. Voters elect half the members of the lower house every two years through a system of proportional representation.

Other important changes to the constitutional system included the creation of a senior coordinating minister to serve under the president and the popular election of the mayor of the city of Buenos Aires. The constitution establishes the judiciary as a separate and independent entity of government. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court with the consent of the Senate. Other federal judges are appointed by a special judicial commission. The Supreme Court has the power, first asserted in 1854, to declare legislative acts unconstitutional.

Political Parties 
The two largest political parties are the Partido Justicialista or Peronist Party (PJ), which evolved out of Juan Peron's efforts to expand the role of labor in the political process in the 1940s, and the Union Civica Radical, or Radical Civic Union (UCR), founded in 1890. Traditionally, the UCR has had more urban middle-class support and the PJ has received more labor support. Support for both parties is broadly based. A grouping of mostly left parties and former peronists--the Front for a Country of Solidarity (FREPASO)--has emerged in the 1990s as a serious political contender especially in the Federal Capital. Smaller parties occupy various positions on the political spectrum and some are active only in certain provinces.

Historically, organized labor (largely tied to Menem's Peronist Party) and the armed forces have also played significant roles in national life. Labor is only just emerging from disarray; its political power has been significantly weakened by Menem's free market reforms. The armed forces are firmly under civilian control. Repudiated by the public after a period of military rule (1976-83), marked by human rights violations, economic decline, and military defeat in the 1982 Falkland Islands war, the Argentine military is now a slimmed-down, all volunteer force focused largely on international peacekeeping.

Government Policy 
The Menem Administration has pursued wide-ranging economic reforms designed to open the Argentine economy and enhance its international competitiveness. Privatization, deregulation, fewer import barriers, and a fixed exchange rate have been cornerstones of this effort. All these changes have dramatically reduced the role of the Argentine state in regulating the domestic market. The reform agenda, however, remains incomplete, including needed improvements in the judicial system and provincial administration.

National Security 
The president and a civilian minister of defense control the Argentine armed forces. The paramilitary forces under the control of the Ministry of Interior are the Gendarmeria (border police) and the Prefectura Naval (coast guard). The Argentine armed forces maintain close defense cooperation and military supply relationships with the United States. Other countries also have military relationships with the Argentine forces, principally Israel, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. The lack of budgetary resources is the most serious problem facing the Argentine military. Current economic conditions and the government's commitment to reduce public sector spending have slowed modernization and restructuring efforts. Under President Menem, Argentina's traditionally difficult relations with its neighbors have improved dramatically and Argentine officials publicly deny seeing a potential threat from any neighboring country.

PEOPLE

Argentines are a fusion of diverse national and ethnic groups. Descendants of Italian and Spanish immigrants predominate. Waves of immigrants from many European countries arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Syrian, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern immigrants number about 500,000, mainly in urban areas. Argentina has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, about 250,000 strong. In recent years, there has been a substantial influx of immigrants from neighboring Latin American countries. The native Indian population, now estimated at 50,000, is concentrated in the peripheral provinces of the north, northwest, and south. The Argentine population has one of Latin America's lowest growth rates. Eighty percent of the population resides in urban areas of more than 2,000 and more than one-third of the population lives in the greater Buenos Aires area. This sprawling metropolis, with about 12 million inhabitants, serves as the focus for national life. Argentines enjoy comparatively high standards of living; half the population considers itself middle class.

HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Europeans arrived in the region with the 1502 voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solias visited what is now Argentina in 1516. Spain established a permanent colony on the site of Buenos Aires in 1580. They further integrated Argentina into their empire following the establishment of the Vice-Royalty of Rio de la Plata in 1776, and Buenos Aires became a flourishing port.

Buenos Aires formally declared independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Argentines revere General Jose de San Martin, who campaigned in Argentina, Chile, and Peru, as the hero of their national independence. Following the defeat of the Spanish, centralist and federalist groups waged a lengthy conflict between themselves to determine the future of the nation. National unity was established and the constitution promulgated in 1853.

Two forces combined to create the modern Argentine nation in the late 19th century: the introduction of modern agricultural techniques and the integration of Argentina into the world economy. Foreign investment and immigration from Europe aided this economic revolution. The investment, primarily British, came in such fields as railroads and ports. The migrants who worked to develop Argentina's resources came from throughout Europe, but mostly from Italy and Spain.

Conservative forces dominated Argentine politics until 1916, when their traditional rivals, the Radicals, won control of the government through a democratic election. The Radicals, with their emphasis on fair elections and democratic institutions, opened their doors to Argentina's expanding middle class as well as to elites previously excluded from power for various reasons. The Argentine military forced aged Radical President Hipolito Yrigoyen from power in 1930 and ushered in another decade of Conservative rule.

Using fraud and force when necessary, the governments of the 1930s attempted to contain forces for economic and political change that eventually helped produce the governments of Juan Domingo Peron (b. 1897). New social and political forces were seeking political power. These included the modern military and the labor movement that emerged from the growing urban working class.

The military ousted Argentina's constitutional government in 1943. Peron, then an army colonel, was one of the coup's leaders, and he soon became the government's dominant figure as minister of labor. Elections carried him to the presidency in 1946. He aggressively pursued policies aimed at giving an economic and political voice to the working class and greatly expanded the number of unionized workers. In 1947, Peron announced the first five-year plan based on nationalization and industrialization. He presented himself as a friend of labor and assisted in establishing the powerful General Confederation of Labor (CGT). Peron's dynamic wife, Eva Duarte de Peron, known as Evita (1919-1952), helped her husband develop his appeals to labor and women's groups. Women obtained the right to vote in 1947.

Peron won reelection in 1952, but the military deposed him in 1955. He went into exile, eventually settling in Spain. In the 1950s and 1960s, military and civilian administrations traded power. They tried, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. When military governments failed to revive the economy and suppress escalating terrorism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the way was open for Peron's return.

On March 11, 1973, Argentina held general elections for the first time in ten years. Peron was prevented from running, but voters elected his stand-in, Dr. Hector J. Campora, to the presidency. Peron's followers also commanded strong majorities in both houses of the National Congress, which assumed office on May 25, 1973. Campora resigned in July 1973, paving the way for new elections. Peron won a decisive victory and returned as President in October 1973 with his third wife, Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron, as Vice President.

During this period, extremists on the left and right carried out terrorist acts with a frequency that threatened public order. The government resorted to a number of emergency decrees, including the implementation of special executive authority to deal with violence. This allowed the government to imprison persons indefinitely without charge.

Peron died on July 1, 1974. His wife succeeded him in office, but her administration was undermined by economic problems, Peronist intraparty struggles, and growing terrorism from both left and right. A military coup removed her from office on March 24, 1976. Until December 10, 1983, the armed forces formally exercised power through a junta composed of the three service commanders. 

The armed forces applied harsh measures against terrorists and their sympathizers. They silenced armed opposition and restored basic order. The costs of what became known as the "Dirty War" were high in terms of lives lost and basic human rights violated.

Serious economic problems, defeat by the U.K. in 1982 after an unsuccessful Argentine attempt to forcibly take control of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, public revulsion in the face of severe human rights abuses, and mounting charges of corruption combined to discredit and discourage the military regime. This prompted a period of gradual transition and led the country toward democratic rule. Acting under public pressure, the junta lifted bans on political parties and restored other basic political liberties. Argentina experienced a generally successful and peaceful return to democracy.

On October 30, 1983, Argentines went to the polls to choose a president, vice president, and national, provincial, and local officials in elections international observers found to be fair, open, and honest. The country returned to constitutional rule after Raul Alfonsin, candidate of the Radial Civic Union (UCR), received 52% of the popular vote for president. He began a six-year term of office on December 10, 1983.

In 1985 and 1987, large turnouts for mid-term elections demonstrated continued public support for a strong and vigorous democratic system. The UCR-led government took steps to resolve some of the nation's most pressing problems, including accounting for those who disappeared during military rule, establishing civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidating democratic institutions. However, constant friction with the military, failure to resolve endemic economic problems, and an inability to maintain public confidence undermined the Alfonsin Government's effectiveness, which left office six months early after peronist candidate Carlos Saul Menem won the 1989 presidential elections.

As President, Menem launched a major overhaul of Argentine domestic policy. Large-scale structural reforms have dramatically reversed the role of the state in Argentine economic life. A decisive leader pressing a controversial agenda, Menem has not been reluctant to use the presidency's extensive powers to issue decrees advancing modernization when the congress was unable to reach consensus on his proposed reforms. Those powers were curtailed somewhat when the constitution was reformed in 1994 as a result of the so-called Olivos Pact with the opposition Radical Party. That arrangement opened the way for Menem to seek and win reelection with 50% of the vote in the three-way 1995 presidential race.

The 1995 election saw the emergence of the moderate left FREPASO political alliance. This alternative to the traditional two main political parties in Argentina is particularly strong in Buenos Aires, but as yet lacks the national infrastructure of the Peronist and Radical parties. In an important development in Argentina's political life, all three major contestants in the 1995 race espouses free market economic policies. 

Argentina will hold mid-term congressional elections in October 1997. These are widely seen as setting the stage for the 1999 presidential race. The government's pro-market policies remain unchallenged, but continued high unemployment and growing public concern over corruption have hurt the government's standing in public opinion polls. 

FOREIGN POLICY

In foreign policy, Menem has dramatically made partnership with the United States the centerpiece of his approach. Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the Gulf war and all phases of the Haiti operation. It has contributed to UN peacekeeping operations worldwide, and has offered to send peacekeepers to Eastern Slavonia and police to the international Police Task force in Bosnia. Menem was an enthusiastic supporter of the December 1994 Summit of the Americas. At the UN, Argentina is one of the U.S.'s closest collaborators. In regional fora, such as the OAS and Rio Group, Argentina has repeatedly advanced U.S. goals.

Eager for closer ties to developed nations, Argentina has pursued relationships with the OECD, and even NATO, and has left the Non-Aligned Movement. It has become a leading advocate of nonproliferation efforts worldwide. A strong proponent of enhanced regional stability in South America, Argentina has revitalized its relationship with Brazil, settled lingering border disputes with Chile, and restored diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. In September 1995, Argentina and the UK signed an agreement to promote oil and gas exploration in the Southwest Atlantic, defusing a potentially difficult issue and opening the way to further cooperation between the two nations.

Principal Government Officials 
President--Carlos Saul Menem 
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Guido Di Tella 
Ambassador to the United States-Diego Guelar
Ambassador to the Organization of American States--Alicia Martinez Rios 
Ambassador to the United Nations--Fernando Petrella

Diplomatic/Consular Offices in the United States Argentina maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009 (tel. 202-939-6400; FAX 202-332-3171).

It has consular offices in the following locations:

Atlanta:  
245 Peachtree Center Ave., Suite 2101 
Atlanta, GA 30303 
Tel: (404) 880-0805; Fax: (404) 880-0806

Chicago: 
205 North Michigan Ave., Suite 4209 
Chicago, IL 60601 
Tel: (312) 819-2620; Fax (312) 819-2612

Houston: 
1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 770 
Houston, TX 77056 
Tel: (713) 871-8935; Fax (713) 871-1639

Los Angeles: 
5055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210 
Los Angeles, CA 90036 
Tel: (213) 954-9155 fax (713) 871-9076

Miami: 
800 Brickell Ave. PH1
Miami, FL 33131 
Tel: (305) 373-7794; Fax: (305) 371-7108

New York: 
12 West 56th St. 
New York, NY 10019 
Tel: (212) 603-0400; Fax: (212) 541-7746

Washington, DC: 
1718 Connecticut Ave. NW 
Washington, DC 20009 
Tel: (202) 797-8826

Office of the Economic and Trade Representative 
1901 L St., NW 
Washington, DC 20036 
Tel: (202) 56-4475

Contact List: 
American Chamber of Commerce in Argentina 
Viamonte 1133, 8th floor
tel. (54)(1) 371-4500; fax (54)(1) 371-8400

U.S. Department of Commerce 
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean 
International Trade Administration 
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 
20230 Tel: 202-482-2436; 1-800-USA-TRADE; Fax: 202-482-4726; 
Internet: http://www.ita.doc.gov 
Automated fax service for trade-related information: 202-482-4464

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION 

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000. 

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see Principal Government Officials listing in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country (see Principal U.S. Embassy Officials listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information. 
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