Latin America and the Caribbean Trade Capacity Building (LAC Trade) I, II & III

Client: United States Agency for International Development

2002-2007, SEGIR GBTI

To build trade capacity in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, this project delivered "rapid response" technical assistance in negotiation and implementation of free trade agreements there.

CARANA provided tools, best practices, and technical assistance to reduce of business constraints; training modules for trade negotiations preparation; and several regional conferences and workshops on trade issues and obstacles.

Trade Negotiation Preparation: CARANA closely partnered with USAID throughout the bilateral and regional FTA negotiations in the hemisphere.

1. Civil Society Outreach Programs (CSOPs). CARANA assisted several countries in the development and implementation of CSOPs to support free trade negotiations and trade agreement implementation. This work was initially carried out in the five Central American nations negotiating the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States, marking an unprecedented level of effort in the region. We shared key lessons learned from these efforts with USAID and through technical assistance to governments preparing for subsequent FTA negotiations (Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Paraguay). We developed comprehensive CSOPs in Ecuador, Panama and Paraguay in partnership with the respective negotiating ministries.

2. Assistance in the Preparation of National Action Plans for Trade Capacity Building (TCB).  CARANA team assisted several countries with the creation and development of their National TCB Strategies. We mobilized within one week to help USAID and the Government of Honduras write Honduras' National Action Plan in preparation for CAFTA negotiations. We assisted the Government of Suriname with the completion of its National Action Plan, working with a diverse local management team. And we assisted the Government of Panama in its National TCB strategy submitted to the international donor community in early 2005.

Trade Agreement Implementation: CARANA has assisted several DR-CAFTA countries with technical assistance designed to help implement recently ratified free trade agreements, include strengthening of oversight and monitoring of “rules of trade” provisions (e.g., SPS measures, IPR, Customs and Rules of Origin, Services, Investment, Dispute Resolution, Labor and Environment, among others), responding to specific responsibilities such as the monitoring of Trade Preference Levels (TPLs), and furthering public participation and education to ensure civil society is informed of their responsibilities and able to take advantage of the new trading arrangements.

1. Implementation and Administration of “rules of trade” obligations. Examples of projects recently conducted in this area include implementation of environmental obligations in El Salvador and Honduras, strengthening institutional capacity to enforce TPLs in Nicaragua, establishing appropriate monitoring and enforcement mechanisms on rules of origin requirements in Nicaragua, among others.

2. Civil Society Outreach Activities. CARANA responded to USAID and Latin American Government requests to conduct conferences and other outreach activities across most of the DR-CAFTA countries.
Transition to Free Trade: Although significant challenges remain in the ratification and successful implementation of the negotiated FTAs, even greater challenges remain for the private sector (notably MSME’s and the rural poor) to take advantage of new trading relationships and the potential benefits of new market opportunities. CARANA provided targeted technical assistance to improve private sector competitiveness and reduce market access-related constraints to trade.

1. Competitiveness. CARANA delivered firm-level technical assistance in tourism and wood manufacturing in Nicaragua, helping Nicaraguan furniture makers improve their production and marketing capacities, which generated more sales of quality Nicaraguan exports. In tourism, our work with the Association of Private Nature Reserves, ANCON Expeditions and Tico Tours in Nicaragua resulted in marketable add-on packages to attract regional and international travelers, as well as a high-profile Female Beach Volleyball Tournament and Tour for the 2006 season.

2. Reduction of Key Bottlenecks to Trade. We created an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism and the requisite new ADR legislation, and helped streamline customs procedures in crucial free zones.

For more information on the LAC Trade Project, visit the project website: