El Salvador: CLDP Organizes Textile Consultations and CAFTA-DR Workshop

February 24, 2020 - February 27, 2020

On February 24-26, 2020, CLDP, in collaboration with USTR, organized a series of consultations for a delegation of 11 U.S. textiles industry experts to assess Salvadoran textile and apparel capabilities in San Salvador, El Salvador. The U.S. delegation was also accompanied by representatives from USTR, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and ITA's Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA).

Salvadoran textile and apparel producers of all sizes struggle with effective design and marketing, which affects their ability to create new business opportunities with U.S. customers. These struggles are further intensified by lack of effective higher education programs in design and marketing in El Salvador. Similarly, apprentice and smaller-scale U.S. designers and entrepreneurs often face challenges finding companies to produce small runs or custom products. Recognizing the mutual benefits of marrying these opportunities, CLDP and USTR brought a delegation of U.S. fashion SMEs and educators, to meet with nine Salvadoran enterprises of varying sizes to foster a dialogue exploring trade and education opportunities. The Salvadoran enterprises included large, sophisticated exporting companies, small and medium-sized textiles and apparel producers, budding fashion entrepreneurs, and relevant government agency representatives. During the consultations, U.S. experts advised Salvadoran colleagues on practical methods to improving marketing strategies, developing business opportunities, enhancing supply chain efficiencies, and addressing sourcing issues within the CAFTA region.

As a result of these consultations, the Salvadoran counterparts gained an in-depth understanding of how U.S. fashion SMEs are trained and operate their businesses, what challenges they face, and how both parties can collaborate on robust business opportunities. The consultations also contribute to the CLDP-USTR Program’s sustainability through educational exchange opportunities between the participants. These consultations form part of CLDP-USTR’s three-year capacity-building program to improve regional prosperity by fostering human and institutional capacity to improve the competitiveness of the Salvadoran industry and enhance export opportunities along the full US–CAFTA-DR supply chain.

The consultations concluded with a one-day workshop on textile and apparel provisions within the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) on February 27, 2020. In attendance were more than 125 Northern Triangle textile and apparel industry representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, as well as Salvadoran government officials and university representatives. The Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles, Bill Jackson, opened the workshop with a discussion on CAFTA textile and apparel trade in terms of global commerce. Over the course of the workshop, Salvadoran participants were introduced to technical textile and apparel provisions of the CAFTA-DR including short supply, verification procedures, and rules of origin. USG experts encouraged participants to apply the technical knowledge to their own businesses through active discussions and interactive case studies. The workshop aimed to strengthen the industry’s understanding and utilization of the CAFTA-DR to enhance the U.S.-regional supply chain. As a result of this workshop, industry representatives from the Northern Triangle - El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras - will be better able to utilize the CAFTA-DR to source yarn and textiles and to strengthen the regional supply chain, thereby increasing economic growth and development for the industry in the region.