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Statement of USTR Rob Portman Regarding Entry Into Force of the U.S. - Central America - Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) for El Salvador

"I am pleased to make a recommendation today that the President issue a proclamation to implement the CAFTA-DR agreement for El Salvador as of March 1, 2006.

"El Salvador is the first country to receive this recommendation from USTR. We have worked closely with El Salvador over the past several months to ensure its legislative and regulatory regime reflects the obligations and responsibilities set forth in the CAFTA-DR agreement. We have engaged in this effort as true partners, and I appreciate all of the hard work the Government of El Salvador has undertaken to help us reach this historic milestone.

"We will continue our work with all of our CAFTA-DR partners to ensure timely and full implementation of the agreement. We hope and expect that we will be able to bring additional CAFTA-DR partners into the agreement soon."

Background

The United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua signed the CAFTA-DR in August 2004. All but Costa Rica have ratified the Agreement. El Salvador was the first to ratify in December 2004. Nicaragua was the most recent, in September 2005.

Implementing legislation for the CAFTA-DR passed the U.S. Senate in June 2005 and the House of Representatives in July 2005 and was signed by the President in August 2005.

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