Ambassador Laura Dogu’s Remarks on USAID Trade Event

On several occasions I have noted the importance of reforms to improve the business climate to attract foreign investment.

And today, I start my day noticing that Honduras is the first country in the region to integrate computer systems where border institutions work together to review and dispatch products.

That is an impressive achievement that improves Honduras’ competitiveness.

Something for which you should be very proud.

I congratulate President Xiomara Castro and her team Fausto Cálix from Customs and Ángel Aguilar from SENASA for their leadership and vision to modernize trade.

I also appreciate the presence of the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Laura Suazo and the Vice Minister of Economic Development Melvin Redondo, both important allies for this work.

Whenever I visit Puerto Cortés, there are two things that surprise me.

That view of the sea and the vibrant commercial activity of the Port.

Trucks, ships, containers…

It is clear to me that trade is the engine of the Honduran economy.

We all depend on trade.

It’s a cycle.

The agricultural sector needs to import inputs for its crops.

These products go through a chain and then go to their final destinations through key points such as Puerto Cortés.

If inputs do not arrive on time, or are not inspected, the very cycle of trade is broken, creating a domino effect of costs and consequences.

For example, we work with producers who grow their coffee in the field.

They need to import fertilizers, manures or seeds in a timely manner to continue their production without delay.

Can you imagine the consequences of a delay in the process?

The producer does not ship his product on time.

The importer pays more for his product in the warehouse than he goes late.

Entire crops can be spoiled.

Or Honduran producers lose market because their clients look for reliable suppliers.

So, we all depend on fast and secure trading.

Institutions such as SENASA and Customs ensure that these products arrive on time.

And, among all the cargo that enters the country, they guarantee that they are safe, and do not affect the health of the consumer.

That is why I am pleased to share the results of a modern inspection process coordinated between Customs and SENASA.

Honduras already complies with international high-quality standards.

And now they reach a new milestone in using state-of-the-art technology.

As I noted at the beginning, Honduras is the first country in the region where institutions and users have immediate and accessible information online about the review and dispatch of their products.

They went from having corridors full of paper towers, to using tablets to inspect the containers.

Users and border officials know what product is coming and when and thus, they move inspectors to process the cargo.

This modernization process has been long, with a lot of effort, but I assure you that it will have a tremendous impact on the entire country.

These time reductions mean millions of dollars in annual savings for businesses of all sizes that depend on commerce.

I want to highlight the continuous commitment of our counterparts and allies in SENASA and Customs.

A few minutes ago, we saw how this new inspection process improves control, provides more transparency, and increases commercial competition.

This is a great start, and there is room for more institutions to join these trade facilitation efforts.

I encourage our counterparts and allies to continue working hand in hand to boost trade and improve conditions for foreign investment with new modern and agile systems.

Reducing costs and times through technology facilitates trade.

And it promotes economic growth in Honduras and the region.

Thank you very much to all of you.

And have a very good day.