The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 20 July 2023.
UK Statement: 4th Trade Policy Review of Honduras at the WTO in Geneva, 12 & 14 July 2023. Delivered by the UK’s Ambassador to the WTO and UN, Simon Manley.
- Quisiera dar una muy calurosa bienvenida a la delegación de Honduras bajo el liderazgo del Ministro Fredis Cerrato Valladares. Es un placer para mí y para el equipo británico el tener una relación tan fuerte con su delegación aquí en Ginebra.
- Thanks to our distinguished discussant for her very eloquent and thoughtful comments and to the Secretariat for the preparation of this meeting.
- Let me start by applauding the efforts of the new government of Honduras to reduce poverty since the 2016 Review under your new female President Ms Xiomara Castro. As the Minister and Ambassador Pagán commented, Honduras’ trade policy has undergone a significant shift towards progressive reform, the impact of which has been palpable for the people of Honduras, but which is felt here even in Geneva thanks to Ambassador Castillo’s Work.
- We also recognise that your economy still faces some challenges as many economies do. These include how it can attract more foreign investment, boost employment and generate increased tax revenue. In preparing for this review, we have listened to private sector voices who have highlighted to us the challenges that for them remain in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Honduras that stem from the handling of foreign investment in the special economic zones (ZEDEs) established by the previous government. And I think that engagement and dialogue with the private sector will be an important step in resolving those challenges and restoring the confidence in investing in Honduras. In that effort the UK stands ready as a friend and partner to support you in the effort to reassure companies looking to invest in Honduras of the benefits of that investment.
- The bilateral relationship that the UK shares with Honduras is only growing stronger. Trade between our two countries has seen a significant increase of almost 40% in the last couple of years, and this has been catalysed by the implementation of the UK-Central America Association Agreement, which is a testament to the committed bilateral relationship that we share, but also as you indicated, an enabler of an ever closer economic and indeed political relationship between us. As you know, our Minister for Latin America, David Rutley, visited Honduras in April 2023 to meet with businesses and with the government to highlight opportunities for boosting our trade relations under the umbrella of this agreement. We hope that this dialogue and positive development is going to continue at the first UK-CAAA Ministerial Council later this year so we can deepen our trade ties and support Honduras with the diversification of its exports. In particular, sectors such as social infrastructure, agriculture, education and clean growth all stand out as areas where significant untapped potential remains if Honduras business environment improves. And the UK is very keen and ready to collaborate to improve this trading environment to enhance our mutually beneficial trading relationship and support to promote economic and social development in Honduras.
- We also welcome further efforts by the government to combat corruption and increase the transparency of public procurement mechanisms, which would have a positive effect on trade and development. So we very much welcome, in particular, the establishment of a new International Commission against Corruption and Impunity (CICIH). This is a very positive step.
- I would like to mention the cooperation that we are undertaking in areas such as sustainable infrastructure – which we think can help support development, agritech and sustainable infrastructure – in which we could support Honduras as it seeks to develop and also address issues around resilience in the face of climate change. Building on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the United Kingdom and Honduras to implement the Biodiverse Landscapes Fund, which supports our shared objective of tackling biodiversity loss and poverty reduction.
- We really appreciate, as others have already done, your multilateral effort here in Geneva. In particular we really appreciate the work that Honduras has contributed on dispute settlement reform, which is important to all of us. And let me end by thanking Ambassador Dacio Castillo for his dedication as the chair of the General Council and also the work that he led in preparation for MC12, which was so fundamental to our success, but also his continued contribution here over many years to the work and success of this organisation. Good luck with this review, good luck with your efforts. It is great to have you as a partner.