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Central America Prosperity Project

The Central America Prosperity Project brings together experienced Central American leaders with the emerging generations of leaders for a series of focused discussions on the efforts the region has made over the past two decades, particularly in the context of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), to find a path to sustained economic growth.

The initial session in Dallas will focus on reviewing past reform efforts in a global context, with a focus on the U.S. perspective. As the participants work to find solutions, they will have the opportunity to hear President George W. Bush discuss his administration’s efforts to transform U.S foreign assistance policy into one focused on opening opportunities rather than promoting dependency. The group will also hear from key players like Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Dr. Kevin Casas, former Vice President of Costa Rica, and Robert Zoellick, former United States Trade Representative and President of the World Bank.

At the conclusion of the working group cycle, the Bush Institute will issue a recommendation paper that encourages the Northern Triangle governments, private sectors, and civil societies to pursue the remaining needed reforms. The group will convene again in early 2019 in Washington, D.C. to lay out a strategy and agenda for the future.

One of the hallmarks of our administration was that we recognized the prosperity of our neighborhood mattered to our own prosperity. When our neighbors flourished economically, America flourished economically. How do we keep that spirit alive during a period when the U.S. seems to be drifting towards isolationism and protectionism?

President George W. Bush, September 7, 2018

“The region needs a long-term growth agenda that will have a direct impact on job creation in order to drain support for gangs, stop migration and family disintegration, and renew public support for the democratic, transparent, and competitive system."
-Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Director Matthew Rooney.

Central America Background

This background paper provides a brief overview of the central premise for economic growth in Central America – reforms to enable competition and investment in economic sectors, regional economic integration, and engagement in global trade – as well as the underlying structural weaknesses, and political and social developments that are inhibiting stability and growth.

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Rate of GDP increase in 2017, in line with global norms, in large part due to the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement

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Increase in Central American trade outside of the U.S.., a spillover effect from the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement