CAFTA-DR Celebrates 5th Anniversary in El Salvador
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro joined Ministers and Vice Ministers of Economy and Commerce from across Central America and the Dominican Republic in San Salvador on February 23 to conclude the first meeting of the CAFTA-DR Free Trade Commission.
The CAFTA-DR Ministerial comes on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the entry into force of CAFTA-DR on March 1, 2006. As part of their 3-day meetings, Ambassador Sapiro and representatives from Central America and the Dominican Republic reviewed the region’s progress in opening to free trade, established committees for dispute settlement and environmental oversight, and signed a joint agreement to fully implement the resolutions of the original agreement over the coming year.
Since 2006, exports to the United States under CAFTA-DR from Central America and the DR have increased by 31%, while U.S. exports to the region have increased 44%.
In addition to the Ministerial, Ambassador Sapiro visited a farm in Caluco, Sosonate where approximately 300 small farmers have benefitted from a crop diversification initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress (FFP) program in El Salvador. Under the program, Salvadoran farmers have diversified from basic grain production to value-added crops such as eggplants, baby corn, okra, black eyed peas, shallots, green peppers, broccoli, and kale, and begun exporting these crops to international markets, including to the United States. FFP has also provided technical assistance for crop selection, drip irrigation, Good Agricultural Practices, post-harvest management and market access.