Canada-Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador (Formerly Canada – Central American Four) Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

Background Information

At the Canada-Central America Summit in Guatemala on September 28, 2000, Canada agreed to a request by the leaders of the Central American Four countries (The CA4) – Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua – to pursue free trade negotiations. Following extensive domestic consultations, formal negotiations were launched on November 21, 2001. Negotiations on parallel agreements on labour cooperation and the environment were launched at the same time.

After 10 rounds of negotiations, the talks reached an impasse in 2004, primarily over market access issues. Canada and the CA4 countries, however, continued to work to address the outstanding issues and lay the groundwork towards an eventual resumption of negotiations. To this end, Canadian and CA4 officials met three times in 2006, were in contact throughout 2007, and met again on three separate occasions in 2008. These discussions were useful and allowed officials to have a full exchange of views. Following the meetings in 2008, the Parties met in Ottawa from February 23 to 27, 2009, for the first full round of free trade agreement negotiations since 2004. Following further intersessional discussions via videoconferences, teleconferences and other exchanges, Canada and the CA4 met in Ottawa for the 12th round of negotiations from March 8 to 12, 2010.

Following the March 2010 round, Canada concluded that, among the CA4 countries, Honduras offered the best opportunity to conclude a free trade agreement in the short-term. As such, in October 2010, Canada and Honduras decided to concentrate on bilateral negotiations. To this end, Canadian and Honduran officials met three times for bilateral meetings: in Ottawa from December 6 to 9, 2010, in Tegucigalpa from February 14 to 18, 2011, and, for a final round in Ottawa from July 18 to 25, 2011.

On August 12, 2011, Prime Minister Harper announced the conclusion of negotiations on a Canada-Honduras free trade agreement during an official visit to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.