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US & CAFTA-DR will encourage vibrant textile & apparel supply chain

February 26, 2011 (El Salvador)

Anabel González, Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica; Marcelo Puello Vice Minister of Dominican Republic; Héctor Miguel Antonio Dada Hirezi, Minister of Economy for El Salvador; Raúl Trejo Esquivel Vice Minister of Integration and Foreign Trade for Guatemala; José Francisco Zelaya, Secretary of State, Offices of Industry and Commerce for Honduras; Orlando Solórzano Delgadillo, Minister of Development, Industry and Commerce for Nicaragua; and Deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR) Miriam Sapiro, Deputy Trade Representative for the United States are pleased to release the following Joint Statement, highlighting the work accomplished at the first meeting of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Commission held on February 22-23, 2011, in San Salvador, El Salvador.

On March 1, the CAFTA-DR will complete its 5th year since first implementation. It has yielded positive results for all seven trading partners and has contributed to significant increases in trade and investment among our countries. When we signed the CAFTA-DR Agreement in 2004, we committed to promote economic growth and prosperity, expand trade and investment opportunities, and intensify regional integration and competitiveness. Much has been achieved, but there is more work to be done and we stand ready to meet this challenge.

At the CAFTA-DR Free Trade Commission (FTC) meeting, we celebrated the five year anniversary since El Salvador and the United States implemented the Agreement. Despite the economic challenges faced by the global economy in recent years, total (two way) trade between the United States and the Central American partners and the Dominican Republic grew from $35 billion in 2005 prior to the implementation of the agreement to $48 billion in 2010.

Intra-regional trade among the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic increased from $4.2 billion to over $6.3 billion over the same period. Foreign investment flows in the region are even more remarkable. The average annual investment inflows into the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic in the first four years of the Agreement were $6.3 billion, or 123 percent higher than the $2.8 billion annual average during 2000-2005 before implementation.

We have reviewed the trade and economic impact of the Agreement and underscored the importance of ensuring its effective implementation among our countries. We discussed the key role that the CAFTA-DR Agreement plays in facilitating sustainable, broad-based economic growth in our region, and acknowledged that such sustained economic growth depends on making the types of policy and institutional changes contained in the CAFTA-DR Agreement. The Agreement has been an important catalyst in facilitating our competitiveness in the new global environment.

While we recognize the economic benefits of increased trade and investment under CAFTA-DR and the importance to all of our countries of continued commitment to its implementation, we also discussed remaining challenges to enhance the effectiveness and new opportunities to further enhance trade in the region.

The CAFTA-DR Agreement is designed to boost long-term growth and reduce poverty and the goal has been bolstered by trade capacity building assistance from the multilateral donors and the United States. The ability for our importers, exporters, and producers to take full advantage of the opportunities is critical to the success of the Agreement and the region.

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