The plan is to strengthen trade relations with Nicaragua and negotiate a trade agreement with the group composed of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
At a meeting between the Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the official explained that "our trade has increased five times in recent years. I want to work with you, the government, the Nicaraguan people and businesses to continue to improve our business relationships. "
Exports did not grow during 2012, and the industry is appealing to Congress to ratify various pending trade agreements.
"It is important to speed up in Congress the ratification of trade agreements", said the president of the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (Agexport), Francisco Menendez.
According to an article published in Prensalibre.com, 2012 did not see good figures for sales abroad, reporting $10.36 billion for the year just ended, which is 1% less than the achievements of 2011 which reported $10.46 billion.
The annual export growth of the maquiladora industry in Honduras is estimated at $200 million, with the entry into force of the trade agreement with Canada.
Laprensa.hn reports that "About 200 million dollars in export growth and the creation of up to 10,000 new jobs is projected for the Honduran maquila industry in 2013 with the entry into force of the FTA with Canada, assured representatives from the sector. Current revenues from maquila plants, just for textiles, total three billion dollars (60 billion lempiras), and these could reach $3.2 billion (L64 billion) when the agreement with Canada comes into effect, which is estimated to be by March 2013. "
Canada is putting pressure on El Salvador to adopt better labor and environmental standards as a condition for signing a free trade agreement.
Rigoberto Monge, from the Office of Private Sector Support for Trade Negotiations (ODASP), explained that as negotiations advance, Canada has made new demands relating to "key labor and environmental aspects", reports Siglo21.com.gt.
The Ministry of Economy has called upon the private business sector in order to decide whether the country should finalise FTA negotiations with Canada.
Negotiations for this agreement, which have been going on for ten years, started with the participation of countries in the CA-4 (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua) and to date only Honduras has signed.
The signing of an FTA will allow entry of 96% of Honduran products to Canada duty free.
Of the remaining 4%, 2% must comply with a tariff reduction schedule over the next three years.
"Regarding agricultural products, Honduras can export 81% of its products duty free to Canada compared to the 42% it will receive from them. In the case of industry, the percentages are 99% from Honduras and 73% from the northern country."
Honduras has concluded the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Canada, as announced by Secretary of Commerce.
Sensitive issues for Canada like the inclusion of the pork and the beef cuts have been resolved.
"According to the report from the Secretary of Industry and Commerce (SIC), Francisco Zelaya, this treaty will open the market for exports of traditional and non traditional products. In addition, it will boost investment, mainly in the Textiles and Clothing sector.
The region has unified its decision to exclude from the text possible economic sanctions to be applied for labor law violations.
Raúl Trejo Esquivel, Guatemala's Vice-minister for the Economy, indicated that Canada would like them included while the CA-4 (composed of Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras) proposal is to develop supporting policies to improve the application of the region's labor laws.
The Guatemalan Exporters Association is a private non-profit entity, established in 1982; that represents, promotes and develops non traditional exports of Guatemalan companies.
Operates in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala
Phone: (502) 2422-3400