Office of the United States Trade Representative


The Free Trade Advantage For Small Business: Central America and the Dominican Republic
By: Gregory Walters, Director of Small Business Affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative 08/10/2003

On Monday August 4, 2003, the Bush Administration announced its intention to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Dominican Republic.  Although independent in its negotiations, this FTA announcement comes after the sixth of nine potential rounds of negotiations with the five Central American governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

"An FTA with the Dominican Republic will foster economic growth and create higher paying jobs in the United States by further reducing and eliminating barriers to trade and investment between the Dominican Republic and the United States. The Dominican Republic's relatively open trade and investment regime, augmented by recent fiscal reforms, has made it one of the world's fastest growing economies over the last decade and an economic engine in the Caribbean Basin," wrote Ambassador Robert Zoellick in the announcement letter to Congressional leaders.

By integrating the Dominican Republic with the U.S.-CAFTA, trade will expand by almost 40%, creating the 2nd largest export market for U.S. goods in Latin America.  In fact, free trade with the current CAFTA countries plus the Dominican Republic will create a larger U.S. export market than current U.S. exports to Thailand, Russia, India, and Indonesia combined.  For U.S. small businesses, who currently export more than half of all goods and services to the region, this means that the almost 5 billion dollars worth of current exports will have unrivaled access to this region.

The U.S.-CAFTA not only makes good economic sense for U.S. exporters, but also strengthens democracy and promotes prosperity in a region that less than twenty years ago was mired in Cold War-era conflict.   It presents fledgling democracies with the opportunity to incorporate the building blocks of sustained development.  The rule of law, open and transparent governance, market-based competition, and regional integration form the cornerstones for both free trade and development in the region.    

Additionally, like NAFTA and the U.S.-Chile free trade agreements, these agreements build towards a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).  The FTAA would touch the lives of 800 million people and generate an estimated $13 trillion in output and $3.4 trillion in trade within the Western Hemisphere.

I would again like to remind you of the upcoming FTAA Ministerial in November and the corresponding America’s Business Forum (ABF).  You can get more information from the ABF website at WWW.MIAMIFTAA2003.COM.  Miami website and for more information on the US-CAFTA, U.S.- Dominican Republic FTA, and the FTAA.   

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