Honduran crisis affects Central American economies

Container trucks line up at the Honduran border while it’s closed due to the curfew imposed by Roberto Micheletti's interim government.

Container trucks line up at the Honduran border while it’s closed due to the curfew imposed by Roberto Micheletti's interim government.

Monday, Oct. 5

CENTRAL AMERICA – Central American governments and businesses reported heavy trade and economic losses due to repeated border closures and curfews imposed by Honduras's coup-installed government in order to maintain control of the country after President Manual Zelaya was overthrown on June 28.

Honduras lies on the main trade route between the north and south of Central America, and the internal situation is beginning to increasingly affect neighboring economies. According to businesses in the region, reported Notimex, the decline in trade between Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is causing daily losses of at least US$3.5 million.

The outcome of the political crisis is also undermining support from local businessmen for Roberto Micheletti's interim government, revealed La Tribuna. Adolfo Facussé, the president of the Honduran National Association of Industries (ANDI), called for a solution that would allow Zelaya to return to power.

Elsewhere in the region, noted BBC Mundo, daily losses of up to US$7.8 million were being registered by Guatemalan exporters as a result of the curfews established by Micheletti.

El Salvador was also affected, reported EFE, and exports to Honduras have amounted to only US$347 million so far this year, compared to US$405 million from January to September 2008.Costs are rising because the borders are closed and we must seek alternative routes. This affects consumers, who pay the final price of the products," declared Mónica Araya, the Costa Rican President of the Federation of Export Chambers of Central America, Panama and the Caribbean, to BBC Mundo. "We urge the governments, especially that of Honduras, to clarify the situation," announced Fernando Monge, director of Costa Rica’s Chamber of Foreign Trade.

Another consequence of the Honduran upheaval was the official postponing on Sept. 29 of negotiations for an Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union (EU).

Several weeks after Zelaya was deposed, reported Spanish radio COPE, the governments of both blocs tried to resume negotiations in the hope that Honduras would be able to join again at a later date. However, according to Mendel Goldstein, the European Commission's Ambassador to Central America, the parties finally concluded that it would be "very difficult to continue" without Honduras. The EU expects the talks to resume in 2010.

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