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

March 31, 2006

"I am pleased that the President issued a proclamation to implement the
CAFTA-DR agreement for Honduras and for Nicaragua on April 1, 2006.

"We have worked closely and intensively with all six CAFTA-DR countries to
ensure they meet the obligations and responsibilities under the agreement. Our
constructive engagement has had positive results and we’re pleased that Honduras
and Nicaragua are now ready to join El Salvador as countries that have fully
implemented the agreement. I greatly appreciate the sincere and diligent effort
by our partners to adopt the necessary regulatory and legislative framework
under CAFTA-DR, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of CAFTA realized by
all participants.

"We will continue our work with the remaining three CAFTA-DR partners to
ensure timely and full implementation of the agreement."


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.

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.

El Salvador was the first country to enter into force on March 1, 2006. With
the entry into force with Honduras and Nicaragua, the U.S. now has the CAFTA-DR
agreement implemented with three countries.