The AAFA noted that U.S. apparel brands and retailers and U.S. textile manufacturers have faced uncertainty and declining orders because of the volatile political situation that has plagued the region since June.
"Honduras is an important hub of commerce for the free-flow of apparel and textiles between the United States and Latin America," said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. "I am pleased the negotiators have reached a brea"kthrough that would begin to restore stability in the region and prevent any further disruption of business. U.S. apparel brands and retailers and U.S. textile manufacturers can now begin to revitalize this critical relationship that supports thousands of U.S. textile and apparel jobs while providing consumers with access to a wider variety of quality clothing at reasonable prices."
"I would like to thank all of the parties for their diligence in resolving this turbulent situation that threatened so many U.S. textile and apparel jobs. I would particularly like to thank Costa Rican President Oscar Arias for his leadership role," Burke added. "However, we are not out of the woods yet. AAFA and other key textile and apparel stakeholders will continue to monitor the implementation of this agreement and advise U.S. officials about its impact on our businesses."
Burke said the episode in Honduras demonstrates how free trade agreements can work to stabilize volatile situations.
"Without CAFTA-DR (the U.S./Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement), this vital relationship would have been destroyed to the detriment of the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers in the United States and Honduras."
On June 28, 2009, Honduras President Manuel Zelaya was removed from power by the Honduran military for alleged violations of the Honduran Constitution. Since that time, negotiators from all around the region, including representatives from the United States and Costa Rica, have engaged Honduran power holders for a peaceful solution in order to restore stability and the normal democratic process to Honduras. On October 29, 2009, negotiators announced a breakthrough in talks that call for democratic elections to be held November 29.
Honduras is a beneficiary country of the U.S./Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Because of the uncertainty spurred by the volatile political situation, commercial ties between Honduras and the United States have experienced significant strain. AAFA and other stakeholders immediately engaged with U.S. government officials through letters on July 9 to President Barack Obama and on September 25 and October 27 and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to seek a negotiated solution that would not harm the important U.S./Honduran apparel and textile supply chain and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Honduran jobs dependent on that relationship.