U.S. earmarks $1 billion for Central America

Trade to the United States from Central America and the Dominican Republic has increased 66.7 percent since 2005 and now totals $30.1 billion, the U.S. government reported Friday. The countries involved are those that are parties to the Central American Free Trade Treaty.

The statistic came from an announcement that the United States plans to provide more than $400 million to promote trade facilitation, promote transport and customs/border integration, promote more efficient and sustainable energy, reduce poverty, enhance workforce development, facilitate business development and help small businesses create jobs, link Central American and North American markets, and strengthen Central American regional institutions.

The United States said it will continue to support technical assistance to encourage electricity market integration, renewable energy development, power sector solvency, and resource planning to improve Central American citizens’ access to clean, affordable, and reliable electricity.  These efforts will help attract private investment in clean energy infrastructure and boost overall economic competitiveness.

The money is part of some $1 billion that the U.S. executive branch has put in the proposed 2016 fiscal year budget to contribute to the evolution of an economically-integrated Central America that is fully democratic, provides greater economic opportunities to its people, promotes more accountable, transparent, and effective public institutions, and ensures the safety of its citizens, according to a White House announcement.

Nearly $250 million is allocated to strengthen institutions and enable governments to more effectively address the social, economic, political, and security problems they face, the White House said.  A focus is to help Central American countries improve revenue collection and public sector fiscal management, increase the role and impact of civil society on governance, strengthen the efficiency, accountability, and independence of judicial institutions, reinforce democratic institutions, and target corruption.

Many of the programs are designed to help Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

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