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Chamber Highlights U.S.-Central American Trade

Wednesday, April 9, 2003 - 8:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Chamber of Commerce brought together the five Central American heads of state and trade ministers today to highlight the importance of free trade negotiations with Central American countries for the U.S. economy.

"One of the best ways to jumpstart the global economy is with trade, and that starts right here in our neighborhood - the Americas," said Chamber Vice President for Western Hemisphere Affairs John Murphy. "A commercially strong trade agreement will open the door to new opportunities for businesses and workers in the U.S. and Central America."

The Chamber is calling for trade negotiations between the U.S. and Central America to eliminate trade barriers, protect intellectual property rights, and strengthen the investment climate - all with a view toward generating economic growth.

Meeting with the business community at the U.S. Chamber were Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco, El Salvadoran President Francisco Flores, Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, Honduran President Ricardo Maduro, and Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños.

Negotiations for a U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement began in January, and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Trade between the United States and Central America exceeded $20 billion in 2001. The five Central American nations - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua - constitute a larger export market for U.S. goods and services than India, Indonesia and Russia combined.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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