Gov. Jeb E. Bush, R-FL, issued the following news release:
Joined last week by US Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, Gov. Jeb Bush addressed public and private leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere to launch Florida’s US-Dominican Republic/Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) Market Entry Campaign. Gov. Bush emphasized Florida’s status as the “Gateway to the Americas” and the state’s unique relationship with Central America. Florida currently benefits from a 48% share of total US trade with Central America, valued at more than $16 billion last year.
“The DR-CAFTA nations are vital partners for Florida,” Governor Bush said. “The implementation of the DR-CAFTA will further increase Florida’s connection to this region, as will the eventual Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and Miami as its Secretariat.”
Established and coordinated by US Department of Commerce and Enterprise Florida, Inc., in partnership with Florida FTAA and the Florida Trade Partners, the Florida DR-CAFTA Market Entry Campaign is designed to assist Florida companies to take advantage of the new opportunities that the DR-CAFTA will provide to US companies and will highlight the benefits of free trade agreements in general. The Florida DR-CAFTA Campaign will include Florida trade missions to all DR-CAFTA countries (Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua), as well as inbound missions from the region. Seminars will be conducted throughout the state to inform Florida companies about existing trade opportunities. A nationwide marketing and conference outreach program will position Florida as the “Gateway to DR-CAFTA”. Additionally, a Florida-DR-CAFTA website will assist companies throughout the state by providing DR-CAFTA-related information.
“Future export potential is only limited by initiative and vision, and there is no shortage of either in the State of Florida,” said US Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez. “DR-CAFTA provides tremendous opportunity not just for Florida and other US businesses, but for the entire hemisphere. The success of DR-CAFTA will be our success because our hemisphere will be more prosperous and secure.”
DR-CAFTA eliminates barriers to trade and investment among the seven signatories: Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States. The agreement opens new commercial opportunities for US companies and US operations of foreign companies with these Central American and Caribbean countries. DR-CAFTA also enhances those countries’ access to the US markets and establishes common regulatory and environmental standards.
DR-CAFTA, which covers virtually every type of trade and commercial exchange between these countries and the United States, immediately eliminates all tariffs on 80 percent of US manufactured goods, with the balance to be phased out over a few years. A significantly large portion of the anticipated economic benefits of DR-CAFTA are expected to accrue from the liberalization of trade in services and the opening up of government procurement. Historically, free trade agreements result in dramatic increases in bilateral trade among the participants. The scale and scope of this agreement makes DR-CAFTA a significant advance toward hemispheric free trade; as the number one US exporter to the DR-CAFTA nations, Florida stands to reap potentially substantial benefits.
Florida’s most important international market is the Western Hemisphere, with two-way trade totaling more than $51 billion in 2004, and with the Latin American and Caribbean region representing more than 62% of Florida’s total international trade. (US Fed News)