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U.S. Commerce Secretary Offers Program to Help Eliminate Corruption and Bribery in Central America

This is a great initiative, specially when you consider there is a financial incentive to it--more trade. Let's hope it makes a difference.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 21, 2005

U.S. Commerce Secretary Offers Program to Help Eliminate Corruption and Bribery in Central America

San Salvador, El Salvador -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez today in El Salvador announced the U.S. will help El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in their existing efforts to stamp out bribery and fight corruption by extending the Good Governance Program to the three countries. Gutierrez said the Program compliments the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

“Our Good Governance Program will complement CAFTA’s provisions by promoting private sector leadership and private–public partnerships to fight corruption and fortify the rule of law,” said Gutierrez in remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce.

“The private sector is an engine of growth and champion of change throughout the world. For that reason, we want the private sector to lead the way toward a society that values transparency, accountability, and ethical practices.”

Gutierrez called corruption, lack of transparency, and a weak rule of law “invisible taxes” that raises the cost of doing business. He said the faster the good governance climate within a country matures, the greater the likelihood that entrepreneurs will be willing to invest capital within the marketplace.

The Commerce Secretary also said he will deploy a U.S. team in coming weeks to work with the private and public sector in each country to gather recommendations to seek the best way to get the governance programs up and running over the next year.

“The biggest beneficiaries of progress on good governance issues will be the citizens of the countries making swift changes and reforms,” Gutierrez said.

The Good Governance Program is already helping eleven countries. In the last two years three Latin American pilot programs were successfully launched in Panama, Paraguay and Nicaragua.

Gutierrez is in El Salvador on the final leg of a 19-U.S. member business delegation he is leading throughout Central America, the first since passage of CAFTA in August. The mission is geared toward highlighting new U.S. business opportunities and stronger trade ties with Central America. The stops included Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

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