Central American region enters EU

Six years ago the Central American Region and Dominican Republic signed the Free Trade Agreement with the US (DR-CAFTA). The treaty has eliminated commercial barriers and taxes for the introduction of certain products, which certainly has brought further economic development for the participant countries.

Despite the international financial crisis there has been a considerable increment in the regional exports to the US, especially regarding agricultural and manufactured products.

Last May 2010 the Central American Region including Panama signed an Association Agreement with the European Union. The agreement is focused on three basic pillars: commerce, political dialogue and cooperation. It is expected to increase the commercial relationships between both markets and reinforce the historical ties between both regions.

Mario Búcaro, Managing Partner at Central Law, said that working together with Garrigues in such an important event had been an achievement considering that the recent signing of the agreement enabled Central Law and Garrigues the opportunity to provide their respective clients the best legal advice combining their expertise in both jurisdictions.
“There are a lot of opportunities between these two markets and the Central American countries are moving forward to reach it”, expressed Jesús Humberto Medina Alva, Central Law's chairman.

Central America benefits from its geographical position: located between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean it is connected to the rest of the world, especially through the Panama Canal.

The Central American region offers many incentives for foreign investment. The legal framework in place is supported by regional laws and treaties.

Each country in the region makes the best efforts to attract new business opportunities worldwide.

El Salvador is best known for regulating public-private . The concession is the most known example of this figure and its investment structure is based on the English model of Private Finance Initiatives (“PFIs”) where the payment is accounted as Government´s current expenditure and not as a long period debt. Private public investments are the perfect tool for doing business across Central America.

Guatemala has one of the biggest financial centers in the region and is chosen for projects in real estate and tourism. Honduras, well known for agricultural, manufacturing and mining, is also famous for its amazing beaches.

Nicaragua encourages foreign investment in renewable energy projects since companies are allowed to contract directly with distributors and take advantage of a series of tax exemptions.

Central America is the home of some of the planet's finest natural reserves. Important laws have been passed to protect the environment, as well as ensuring economic growth. Costa Rica is a leader on environmental issues and aims to be carbon-neutral by 2021.

Panama is a dollar-based economy and many companies have their headquarters there as they pay lower taxes than in their own countries. The Panama Canal and the Colon Free Zone facilitate international trade.

With its focus on tourism, many projects have been launched in the Dominican Republic attracting millions of tourists in the recent years.

Some places along the aforementioned countries, like Joya de Ceren (El Salvador), Antigua (Guatemala), Ruinas de Copán (Honduras), León Viejo (Nicaragua), Isla de Coco (Costa Rica) have been classified as World Heritage.

“Central America is more than the right choice for a tourism destination, and our firm´s knowledge of law around the region is invaluable”, adds Medina Alva.

Central Law, the leading full service law firm in Central America and Dominican Republic since 2002, has 11 offices in seven countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Dominican Republic. It has a team of 222 individuals and its lawyers have more than 30 years of experience in the global markets.

Central Law belongs to USLAW, a network of more than 4,000 lawyers and 150 offices in some 48 US states. It is highly recommended by Martindale Hubbell, and is being ranked by Chambers and Partners and International Finance Law Review.

For more information: www.central-law.com

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