Statement of USTR Rob Portman On House Passage of CAFTA-DR

"Tonight is an historic night for American leadership on free and fair trade.

"House passage of CAFTA-DR will create jobs and economic growth here at home and promote democracy, prosperity and hope in the Central American region. This win sends a powerful signal to the region and the world that the United States will continue to lead in opening markets and leveling the playing field.

"The Bush Administration has worked with Congress to pass free trade agreements with ten countries since passage of Trade Promotion Authority. Each opens markets to U.S. exports and creates U.S. jobs.

"In the drive to pass CAFTA-DR, I've worked closely with Members on both sides of the aisle.

"With CAFTA-DR behind us, and given the large bipartisan support for other elements of the President's trade agenda, I call on both supporters and opponents to move ahead and work together to continue to open markets and expand prosperity. I pledge to do all I can to continue our efforts to listen and address Members' concerns on trade.

"I thank Speaker Dennis Hastert, the Republican trade team, including Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, and Chairman Bill Thomas. I very much appreciate the input and support from Democrats such as Representatives Jefferson, and Moran. Great credit is also due to the Senate, which has already passed CAFTA-DR.

"I want to thank my colleagues in the Cabinet, particularly Secretaries Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary Mike Johanns, and Secretary Condoleezza Rice, for their effective support.

"And I commend President Bush, for having the bold vision to extend the hand of economic friendship to our Central American neighbors, and for giving me the opportunity to lead his trade team.

"The drive to open markets for U.S. exports continues, and Thursday I head off to Geneva where much work remains to keep the WTO Doha talks on track."