U.S. Statement at the WTO Trade Policy Review of El Salvador

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Christopher S. Wilson
on Behalf of the United States

*As Delivered*

Geneva,
September 14, 2016

 

Thank you, Chair.  The United States is pleased to welcome Minister Lopez, Ambassador Lima Mena, and the entire El Salvador delegation to the fourth Trade Policy Review of El Salvador.

Since El Salvador’s last review in 2010, El Salvador has continued on a path toward integration into the global economy with a focus on active participation in multilateral, regional and bilateral negotiations and implementing policy reforms to attract investment, promote and facilitate trade, public-private projects and job creation. We look forward to learning more about El Salvador’s trade policies and its engagement through various regional and bilateral trade agreements, during the course of this TPR.

The United States and El Salvador continue to enjoy a strong trade and economic relationship. The United States is El Salvador’s leading partner in both exports and imports. Our bilateral trade in goods was $5.8 billion in total (two-way) goods trade in 2015.

The United States and El Salvador are partners under a regional free trade agreement the Dominican Republic – Central America – United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), among the Dominican Republic, the United States, and five Central American countries.  Over the last ten years, since implementation of the CAFTA-DR, our trade relationship with El Salvador has transitioned to one based on reciprocal free trade.

Both the Secretariat’s and the government’s reports indicate that El Salvador is pursuing a strategy of trade liberalization at the multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels. The United States commends El Salvador on the direction of its trade liberalization strategy, as it continues to pursue greater integration in the global economy by opening markets with partners around the globe, strengthening competitiveness and supply-chains, stimulating trade and investment, domestic innovation, production and job creation.

On the multilateral front, El Salvador continues to be an active participant in WTO work to monitor compliance with the agreements in force across various WTO fora, in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA), trade in services, intellectual property, WTO standards, trade facilitation and dispute settlement. We appreciate the consistently active engagement of Ambassador Lima and his team on a broad range of our work here.  El Salvador is a member that frequently punches above its weight.

The United States is very pleased that El Salvador’s Legislature ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement and notified the WTO, joining Nicaragua and Honduras, now the third Central American country to do so.  The United States commends El Salvador for work to date and progress in customs modernization and trade facilitation.  With technical assistance from the United States and other countries, El Salvador and its Central American neighbors have made advancements in trade facilitation and continue to focus on reform initiatives to promote free movement of goods and trade facilitation, regulatory modernization and convergence, and institutional development.

It is clear that economic integration through preferential trade agreements, with various partners, has been an increasingly important element of Salvadoran trade liberalization. El Salvador has focused on improving and deepening economic integration with the other Central American countries and Mexico.  El Salvador’s report recognizes the signing of the agreement between Central America and the European Union, noting that this agreement strengthens the trading relationship between the two regions.  The report indicates that the agreement addresses trade-related aspects as well as “developing policy- and cooperation-related aspects”.  The United States would appreciate further elaboration from El Salvador on the latter two aspects of the agreement that have not yet entered into force.

In intellectual property rights, the United States recognizes reforms during this review period in trademarks and geographical indications and commends El Salvador’s recognition and focus on intellectual property as a key element of national development.

In closing, we would like to reiterate our appreciation for El Salvador’s active participation in the work of the WTO and its commitment to prioritizing and meeting its commitments under the TFA.  We would also like to emphasize that we continue to value our close work with the Salvadorian government and our WTO partners to strengthen and build on the WTO’s rules-based and cooperative foundation.  As a dynamic economy that sees the benefits that trade liberalization has brought, we look to El Salvador to support and promote ongoing WTO market liberalization opportunities

We thank the delegation of El Salvador for its willingness to consider these points and welcome the opportunity to engage with El Salvador and other delegations in a discussion of El Salvador’s trade policy regime. We also thank the delegation of El Salvador for the responses to our written questions.

Thank you.