During the meeting held in El Salvador, government representatives began the meeting by reviewing developments in trade and investment. During the period 2005 (the year immediately preceding the entry into force of CAFTA) and 2010, exports of Central America and Dominican directed to the U.S. grew 31%, from U.S. $ 18,803 million in 2005 to U.S. $ 24,590 million in 2010. In the same period, imports of goods to the region grew by 44%, from U.S. $ 16,827 million to U.S. $ 24,217 million, highlighting the purchase of fuels, electrical machinery, machinery, plastics, cereals, textiles and cotton, among others.
Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez pointed out that the growth has been significant under the agreement and said "5 years after entry into force of CAFTA results are clear: more trade, more investment, more opportunities for citizens of participating countries. CAFTA is meeting its objectives."
During the meeting the Commission reviewed progress in implementing the treaty, in particular:
- Updated the rules of origin to meet the established regulations by the World Customs Organization. This change will facilitate the implementation of trade rules.
- In terms of textiles, updated provisions of the Treaty to the new productive reality of the CAFTA members. These changes expand opportunities under the Treaty and strengthen the supply chains of the textile industry in the region, increasing its competitiveness.
- Expedites the mechanism for settlement disputes in the Treaty. This will ensure the enforcement of rights and obligations negotiated.
Finally, one of the most significant outcomes of this ministerial meeting was the launch of the Trade Facilitation Initiative, a project sponsored by Costa Rica with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, which aims to boost trade in the region by developing concrete projects in the areas of customs facilitation, logistics and supply chains, and technical standards and sanitary measures. As part of the meeting, the Bank filed an "Inventory of Trade Facilitation Projects", currently being implemented in Central America and Dominican Republic. Based on this information, during the second stage of the initiative, countries will define specific projects to be implemented in the areas of interest. The ministers will review the progress and expect specific results of this initiative during the second session of the Commission.
Source: Ministerio de Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica
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Nicaragua is one of the countries which has benefited the most from the Free Trade Agreement.
Robert Callahan, U.S. Ambassador in Nicaragua, added that the Central American country currently has a positive trade balance of $1.078 with the U.S.
Additionally, exports to the North American country have increased 71% in the past five years, from $1.170 million in 2005 to $2.012 million in 2010.
Representatives from the US, CA and the Dominican Republic met in Santo Domingo to analyze the need for technical assitance for the signed in CAFTA-DR 2004.
The director of Foreign Trade and Administration of the Treaty from the Dominican Ministry of Industry and Trade, Pablo Amaury Espinal, said that one of the objectives of the meeting is for the Committee for the Strengthening of the Commercial Capacity of the FTA to present an operational plan in 2009 that will allow the signatory countries to the agreement to access more resources.
U.S. products are arriving with certificates of origin stating they are part of NAFTA, the trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, which means that when they enter Guatemala they lose their tax privileges from the FTA with Central America.
The Guatemalan Minister of Economy, Luis Velasquez, has submitted a proposal to the Council of Ministers of Economy of Central America (Comieco) which aims to add an amendment to DR-CAFTA on error correction mechanisms.
Exports have grown a mild 3.4%, with agricultural goods leading the way; Guatemala’s trade balance with the U.S. remains negative.
It is possible that the U.S economic crisis prevented the treaty from producing better results for Central American nations, but it is also probable that it helped soften the negative economic effects of said crisis.