SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B.
Zoellick today announced that the United States, through a project funded and managed by
the U.S. Department of Labor, is awarding a four-year grant of $6.75 million to the
Foundation for Peace and Democracy (FUNPADEM) to help improve working conditions its
Central American FTA (CAFTA) partners. FUNPADEM is a non-governmental, non-profit
organization that supports sustainable human development in Central
"As the United States and our Central American partners work to
complete our Free Trade Agreement, we want to ensure that the benefits of trade and
openness are shared by workers in all our countries," said Zoellick. "FUNPADEM worked
with the U.S. government to help fight child labor in Central America, and I am
delighted to announce this new grant to support its work on improving labor conditions
in the CAFTA region. The grant also matches the interest of important CAFTA supporters
in the Congress, who have emphasized the need to combine free trade with support for
The funds announced today will be used to educate workers and
employers in Central American countries about local laws governing labor, to enhance
inspection systems to ensure that workers' rights are respected, and to build dispute
resolution mechanisms so workers and employers can solve problems constructively.
The grant, to be managed and funded by the U.S. Department of
Labor, was awarded to FUNPADEM through a competitive bidding process. FUNDAPEM will work
closely with ABT Associates, a U.S.-based company that has extensive
experience working with Labor Ministries in Central America.
Zoellick is visiting Central America October 1-3, to discuss the
ongoing U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) negotiations with the
Presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua; Central American trade ministers;
legislators; and, members of the private sector and civil society.
The United States is committed to expanding the circle of nations
that benefit from global trade by providing trade capacity building assistance. Last year,
the United States devoted $638 million--more than any other single country--to help
developing economies build the capacity to take part in trade negotiations and to
benefit from trade liberalization
The Foundation for Peace and Democracy, FUNPADEM, is a
non-governmental, nonprofit, non-partisan organization that supports sustainable human
development in Central America. Founded in 1988, it has undertaken numerous initiatives
to strengthen the region's political, economic and social institutions.