SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) – A free trade agreement between El Salvador and the United States is boosting economic growth in the Central American country, Salvadoran and U.S. officials said Wednesday.
El Salvador’s economy grew 4 percent since it joined the Central American Free Trade Act, or CAFTA-DR, last year, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Sullivan said.
‘This hadn’t happened in more than 10 years,’ Sullivan told reporters while visiting a San Salvador factory that manufactures pupusas — thick, stuffed corn tortillas served with pickled cabbage — to sell in cities throughout the U.S.
The trade agreement, which slashes tariffs on U.S. exports, was approved by Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador in 2006, as part of a push by the U.S. to boost exports worldwide. The Dominican Republic signed on in March 2007 and, after a hotly contested referendum, Costa Rica’s president signed the agreement into law last week.
El Salvador’s Economic Secretary Yolanda Mayora said the country’s own textile and agricultural exports have increased since the accord took effect.
‘The United States is El Salvador’s main commerce partner and we send 57 percent of our exports there,’ she said.
Traditional Salvadoran food exports to the U.S., where 2.5 million Salvadorans live, have reached about $19 million in the last year, she said.
‘El Salvador is the (member) country that has benefited the most from this accord, and the country whose exports to the U.S. have had the greatest growth,’ Mayora said.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.