By  on August 9, 2005

WASHINGTON — In what could be considered a victory lap after the recent passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will highlight opportunities for American businesses during a mission to the region this fall.

CAFTA was signed into law last week by President Bush and takes effect Jan. 1. The pact reduces trade barriers between the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and potentially Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic when those countries approve it.

"CAFTA-DR [Dominican Republic] levels the playing field for U.S. products and services, while at the same time strengthening the fragile democracies of these Central American countries," said Gutierrez in a statement.

During the tour, Gutierrez will take business representatives to Guatemala City, San Pedro Sula in Honduras and San Salvador in El Salvador. The mission will meet with government and business representatives, chambers of commerce and trade associations in each city.

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