For Immediate Release: February 21, 2008
Contact: Matt Englehart (202) 482-3809
Under Secretary Padilla to Review CAFTA-DR Implementation and Expanded Trade Opportunities During Visit to Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica
WASHINGTON–U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Christopher A. Padilla will travel to Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica Feb. 25-29 to review implementation of the United States-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and discuss continuing efforts to strengthen trade and investment ties with and throughout the region. Padilla will meet with senior government officials and private sector representatives, as well as visit companies that are benefitting from the agreement.
“Since implementation in 2006, CAFTA-DR has supported jobs and boosted exports in both the United States and Central America,” said Padilla. “Within one year of CAFTA-DR coming into force, the United States went from a trade deficit to a trade surplus with our CAFTA-DR partners. Moreover, the agreement has been critical to strengthening good governance, rule of law, and transparency in the region.”
During meetings with Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Costa Rican government officials, Padilla will encourage the need to build on the successes of CAFTA-DR, as well as tackle the related challenges. Padilla will tour companies that are benefitting from U.S. exports to the region and visit U.S. companies that are helping to improve the lives of people across the region through investment, job creation, and social welfare projects.
“CAFTA-DR is an example of how free trade agreements can boost U.S. exports and also improve the quality of life for our partners in the Western Hemisphere,” said Padilla. “Last week I visited companies in the United States, large and small, that have seen their exports to Central America grow since the implementation of CAFTA-DR. On this trip, I will see how those exports are being used in Central America. The remarkable success of CAFTA shows why the Congress should act on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. Just as CAFTA has worked for America, free trade with Colombia would boost exports, promote investment, and support democracy in one of our closest allies in the Hemisphere.
The United States posted a surplus in trade in goods with the CAFTA-DR region in 2007 – almost $3.7 billion, up from a $1 billion surplus in 2006. U.S. exports in 2007 to the five countries that have implemented the CAFTA-DR (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic) grew 15.4 percent from 2006. U.S. exports in 2007 to the five countries were at record levels: U.S. exports reached $22.4 billion to all the CAFTA-DR countries, up 14.4 percent from the previous year.
Last year, trade with countries with which the United States has FTAs was significantly greater than their relative share of the global economy. Although comprising 7.5 percent of global GDP, not including the United States, those FTA countries accounted for more than 42 percent of U.S. exports.
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