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U.S. Chamber Rallies for Free Trade with Central America

Wednesday, May 5, 2004 - 8:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce gathered business owners and lawmakers to Capitol Hill today to rally support for a free trade agreement with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA), calling the deal set to be debated in Congress a big step towards opening overseas markets and a potentially huge boost to the U.S. economy.

"Negotiators have hammered out a good trade deal that opens up markets to American goods and services," said Jim Fendell, president of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce Abroad in Latin America (AACCLA). "Now Congress must match that commitment and approve this agreement so American companies and workers can benefit."

The rally was sponsored by AACCLA and featured the release of a new publication called "Faces of Trade – Small Business Success Stories in Central America and the Dominican Republic." The book, compiled by the Chamber's TradeRoots program, is a collection of 40 profiles and stories of small and medium sized businesses in 18 states that have benefited from free trade.

Attending the rally were three individuals featured in the book – Colin Stauffer, COO of Nature Plus Inc. in Stamford, Conn., Jim Pyburn, Director of Trade Development at the Tampa, Fla. Port Authority, and Jeffrey Paul, General Manager of Bearcom in Garland, Texas – who spoke about the success their operations have had thanks to open markets and lowered trade barriers.

Total trade between the U.S. and the countries covered by CAFTA has nearly doubled since 1995. In 2002 alone, trade between the two totaled $30 billion and the CAFTA group represent the second largest export market for U.S. goods and services in Latin America.

This free trade agreement will improve market access for U.S. goods, strengthen intellectual property and investor protections, open service markets and enhance transparency in government procurement, according to the Chamber.

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

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