The ratification of the CAFTA-DR free trade agreement by the United States Congress will give fresh impetus to integration in the Americas, Inter-American Development Bank President Enrique Iglesias said today.
The agreement, which will eliminate trade barriers among Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States, was approved late Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate had earlier voted favorably on the CAFTA-DR, which has also been ratified by El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
“The ratification of the CAFTA-DR gives the process of integration of the Americas a needed impulse,” Iglesias said. “Its successful implementation will ensure that we gain momentum to involve more countries in building stronger and more dynamic economies and more stable and just democracies in our region.”
Iglesias noted that while the treaty will immediately spur commerce in the region, it also underscores the urgency of increasing the competitiveness of the six participating Latin American countries.
The IDB is currently financing a range of programs aimed at helping the less developed CAFTA-DR partners improve their basic infrastructure and productivity in rural areas. It is also assisting the countries in strengthening their capacity to implement trade agreements and meet their obligations in areas such as enforcement of labor and environmental standards.
At the same time the IDB is helping the CAFTA-DR countries modernize their social sectors to ensure that their basic education, health and nutrition programs give priority to the most vulnerable segments of their population.