Landrieu Urges Establishment of Trade Headquarters in New Orleans
In joint letter to President Bush, Louisiana delegation says the city will help implement the agreement.
United States Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., along with five other members of the Louisiana congressional delegation, today sent a letter to President Bush requesting a New Orleans office to oversee the implementation of the Dominican Republican-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).
"The selection of New Orleans as the site of the DR-CAFTA institutional and ministerial functions would recognize the key role the city has played, and continues to play in international trade with our neighbors in Central America and the Dominican Republic," wrote Sen. Landrieu and Reps. Bill Jefferson, D-La., Charlie Melancon, D-La., Jim McCrery, R-La., Rodney Alexander, R-La., and Charles Boustany, R-La.
The agreement as written does not explicitly call for an establishment of a headquarters. However, meetings and negotiations are required periodically as the treaty is implemented. New Orleans is well equipped to host these consultations, and a DR-CAFTA office in the city will be beneficial to tourism and the economy overall.
New Orleans is home to the Trade Capacity Building Institute, a non-profit organization created after DR-CAFTA was negotiated. To ensure that the agreement is successful, the organization offers educational capacity building programs. Furthermore, Louisiana exports billions of dollars in goods to the DR-CAFTA countries.
Last year, exports from Louisiana to Central America and the Dominican Republic grew 43 percent to $2.4 billion, making Central America and the Dominican Republic Louisiana's fourth largest export market. And, the Port of New Orleans serves as a strategic water highway to and from more than 30 states for trade in both directions between Central America and the United States.
"As President Bush hosts his fourth annual North American Leader's Summit in New Orleans this week, he demonstrates a recognition that the city is indeed 'open for business,'" Sen. Landrieu said. "The selection of New Orleans as a hub location for DR-CAFTA's implementation would serve as a boon to the city's tourism, travel and international business, would continue to spur recovery efforts, and would keep New Orleans and the state of Louisiana on the map for foreign governments."