Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere of the U.S. Department of Commerce, John M. Andersen, joined Salvadoran Vice Minister of Economy, Luz Estrella Rodríguez and Vice minister of Trade and Industry, Merlin Barrera, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., CAFTA DR.
“CAFTA is a strong and powerful agreement. And one that has benefited both Central America, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Many of you here have been agents and beneficiaries of the success of CAFTA, and are again poised to leverage the potential opportunities of the future”, said Andersen.
“While it may not have fulfilled every expectation forecast by some optimists, it has facilitated significant growth in the region’s economy, and driven diversification into sectors other than textiles and apparel”, he added.
Despite the economic challenges faced by the world economy in recent years, the intra-regional trade among Central American countries and the Dominican Republic increased from US$6.3 billion in 2010 to more than US$8 billion by 2015. U.S goods exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic were more than $32 billion in 2015, up 99 percent from 2004; U.S. good imports from Central America and the Dominican Republic totaled almost $30 billion in 2015, up 60 percent over that same period. These increased trade flows are promising, and stronger economic growth is possible, but requires a continued commitment from all parties.
Andersen stated that the economic future of Central America will not be in textiles alone. “The CAFTA nations should continue to work toward greater diversification as well as integration”, he said.
“But the potential of CAFTA has not been fully tapped. On this 10th anniversary of the Agreement, we can all be pleased with the tremendous progress that has been made, but at the same time, realize that work in realizing its full potential is not complete”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, Salvadoran Vice Minister of Economy, Luz Estrella Rodriguez made an assessment of the results achieved by CAFTA and highlighted the positive development of trade and flows of foreign direct investment between El Salvador and the United States.
According to figures from the Ministry of Economy of El Salvador, exports from El Salvador to the United States increased by 42%, from $1,809 million in 2005 to $ 2,563 million for 2015. Imports from U.S. also increased from $2,481 million to $ 4,098 million in the same period. Meanwhile, flows of foreign direct investment registered a growth of $1,358 million to $2,640.
Vice Minister Rodríguez remembered that the United States remains the main source of foreign direct investment in El Salvador and added that the opportunities created by CAFTA have been exploited greatly by the sectors of textiles and clothing, leather goods, food and beverages, and some agricultural goods.