Fast says trade deal to advance democracy in Honduras
Agreement eliminates 98% of the tariffs on goods between the two countries.
OTTAWA – Canada has formally signed a free trade agreement with Honduras, a deal that Trade Minister Ed Fast says will help foster democracy and economic growth in the Central American country.
The deal, signed four years after the current president of Honduras was elected after his predecessor was ousted in a military coup, includes side agreements on environment protection and labour rights.
“This is more than just about trade,” Fast said. “We believe by partnering with Hondurans we are also able to help them increase prosperity within the country and lift more people out of poverty … and of course share with them our best practices in areas such as human rights, labour, environment, democracy and freedom.”
The signing ceremony in Ottawa, involving Fast and his Honduran counterpart Jose Adonis Lavaire, will eliminate 98% of the tariffs on goods traded between the two countries.
Honduras currently enjoys a massive trade surplus with Canada, although the overall numbers are relatively small.
Honduran exports of knitted material, fruits and nuts, coffee, fish and other items totalled $218.6 million last year, compared to Canada’s $38.6 million in exports, primarily machinery and fertilizers.
Canada’s largest presence in Honduras is the Montreal-based clothing manufacturer Gildan Activewear, which operates four plants in the country and employs about 20,000 workers.
The operation, along with a US manufacturer, was the subject of complaints to the Fair Labour Association over working conditions. The resolution of the dispute remains unclear.
©The Canadian Press