Guatemala faces many of the same infrastructure challenges we do here in the United States. U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland explained the situation to the more than 200 U.S. farmers and agribusiness representatives at the U.S. Grains Council's 6th International Marketing Conference and 49th Annual Membership Meeting in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He said that country needs to expand the network of roads, increasing the capacity of its ports and diversify its energy sources.
"Despite these challenges, one bright spot is CAFTA-DR, to which Guatemala is a signatory," McFarland said. "The CAFTA-DR agreement has obliged its members to improve transparency and bolster investor protection, and has catalyzed needed reforms in areas such as customs administration, intellectual property rights and government regulation."
A sign of success for the United States is the fact that in the first 11 months of 2008, total U.S. agricultural and food exports to CAFTA-DR countries hit $34 billion, which is up nearly 36% from the same period last year. U.S. feed grain exports were up nearly 42%. Under CAFTA-DR, more than half of U.S. agricultural exports enter Guatemala duty-free and remaining tariffs will be eliminated on nearly all products by 2020.