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U.S. Gives $6.75 Million Grant to Support Good Labor Conditions in Central American FTA Partners

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick today announced that the United States, through a project funded and managed by the U.S. Department of Labor, is awarding a four-year grant of $6.75 million to the Foundation for Peace and Democracy (FUNPADEM) to help improve working conditions its Central American FTA (CAFTA) partners. FUNPADEM is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that supports sustainable human development in Central America.

"As the United States and our Central American partners work to complete our Free Trade Agreement, we want to ensure that the benefits of trade and openness are shared by workers in all our countries," said Zoellick. "FUNPADEM worked with the U.S. government to help fight child labor in Central America, and I am delighted to announce this new grant to support its work on improving labor conditions in the CAFTA region. The grant also matches the interest of important CAFTA supporters in the Congress, who have emphasized the need to combine free trade with support for workers rights."

The funds announced today will be used to educate workers and employers in Central American countries about local laws governing labor, to enhance inspection systems to ensure that workers' rights are respected, and to build dispute resolution mechanisms so workers and employers can solve problems constructively.

The grant, to be managed and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, was awarded to FUNPADEM through a competitive bidding process. FUNDAPEM will work closely with ABT Associates, a U.S.-based company that has extensive experience working with Labor Ministries in Central America.

Zoellick is visiting Central America October 1-3, to discuss the ongoing U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) negotiations with the Presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua; Central American trade ministers; legislators; and, members of the private sector and civil society.

Background

The United States is committed to expanding the circle of nations that benefit from global trade by providing trade capacity building assistance. Last year, the United States devoted $638 million--more than any other single country--to help developing economies build the capacity to take part in trade negotiations and to benefit from trade liberalization

The Foundation for Peace and Democracy, FUNPADEM, is a non-governmental, nonprofit, non-partisan organization that supports sustainable human development in Central America. Founded in 1988, it has undertaken numerous initiatives to strengthen the region's political, economic and social institutions.