Nema Etheridge for GlobalAtlanta
Hugo Hun, Guatemala’s consul general in Atlanta, expects an increase of Guatemalan exports to Georgia since his country implemented the U.S.–Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement July 1.

“We hope that with the implementation of Cafta our exports will increase in every sector,” Mr. Hun told GlobalAtlanta.

He noted that Guatemalan apparel and textile manufacturers were especially relieved to begin a free trading relationship with the U.S. because their competitors in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, which implemented Cafta in the spring, had a head start.

“Everyone in the textile industry was very anxious to get Cafta approved in Guatemala, because it definitely gives us a better positioning to sell our products in a bigger market,” Mr. Hun said.

Mr. Hun noted that under Cafta, Guatemala would be better positioned to compete against Chinese apparel and textile manufacturers who increased their exports to the U.S. in 2005.

After quota restraints against them were removed on Jan. 1, 2005, Chinese apparel and textile manufacturers nearly doubled their exports to the U.S.

Apparel exports from China to the U.S. increased from 2.9 billion square meter equivalents (SMEs), or $8.9 billion, in 2004 to 5.8 billion SMEs, or $15.14 billion, in 2005, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association.

During the same period, U.S. apparel imports from Cafta countries fell from 3.79 billion SMEs, or $9.5 billion, in 2004 to 3.78 billion SMEs, or $9.1 billion, in 2005.

Cafta countries’ apparel exports to the U.S. have continued to drop in 2006, but different start dates for Cafta, not increased imports from China, are suspected to be the cause, according to Nate Herman, director of international trade with the apparel association.

Designed to create a free trade bloc between the U.S., Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, Cafta has been ratified by all countries except Costa Rica.

Implementation in the Dominican Republic is still pending.

Georgia exported $117 million to Guatemala in 2005 and imported $130 million from the country through the Savannah Customs District, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

For more information on Guatemala’s implementation of Cafta, contact Mr. Hun at (404) 320-8804 or