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Fact Sheet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2008

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Product Safety in the Americas

The United States is one of the most open markets in the world and it enjoys strong trade partnerships with the nations of Central America. Consumers in the United States are better off because they have a wide variety of products from across the world to choose from. Last year the United States imported nearly $2 trillion of goods through more than 825,000 importers. As nations around the world grapple with a rapidly growing global marketplace, it becomes increasingly important to establish accepted standards for products that will ensure consumers are getting the quality goods they expect and deserve.

Increasing Protection of American Consumers

President Bush established the Import Safety Working Group on July 18, 2007. Chaired by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and comprised of 12 US government departments and agencies, the group was asked to conduct a comprehensive review of the U.S. import system and identify ways to further increase the safety of imports entering the United States. As part of his continuing efforts to improve the safety of products, Secretary Leavitt is visiting the countries of Central America to learn more about how these countries are ensuring consumers’ standards are met.

Central American Product Safety Forum

On June 24, 2008, Secretary Leavitt, Health Ministers, other senior government officials and industry leaders from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic will gather in El Salvador for the Central American Product Safety Forum. At the forum, they will be welcomed by President Elias Antonio Saca of El Salvador and participate in four panel discussions on product safety. The goal is to engage these strong trade partners in a dialogue to discuss the common commitment to safe food and consumer products and to establish methods to enhance product safety.

Participating Countries and Top Products Imported by the United States in 2007 (Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau)

Guatemala– The United States imported more than $3 billion worth of goods from Guatemala in 2007. The top imports were cotton apparel and household goods at $1.11 billion; fruits and preparations, including frozen juices at $452 million; and green coffee at $309 million.

Honduras – The United States imported more than $3.9 billion worth of goods from Honduras in 2007. The top imports were cotton apparel and household goods at $1.74 billion; parts and accessories at $809 million; and apparel and household goods (textiles other than cotton and wool) at $397 million.

El Salvador – The United States imported more than $2 billion worth of goods from El Salvador. The top imports were cotton apparel and household goods at $1.02 billion; apparel and household goods (textiles other than cotton and wool) at $457 million; and industrial and organic chemicals at $157 million.

Costa Rica – The United States imported more than $3.9 billion worth of goods from Costa Rica in 2007. The top imports were fruits and preparations, including frozen juices at $839 million; scientific, medical and hospital equipment at $580 million; and computer accessories, peripherals and parts at $412 million.

Nicaragua – The United States imported more than $1.6 billion worth of goods from Nicaragua in 2007. The top imports were cotton apparel and household goods at 781 million; apparel and household goods (textiles other than cotton and wool) at $177 million; and parts and accessories at $165 million.

Panama – The United States imported more than $365 million worth of goods from Panama in 2007. The top imports were fish and shellfish at $102 million; U.S. goods returned and reimports at $95 million; and nonmonetary gold at $30 million.

Dominican Republic – The United States imported more than $4.2 billion worth of goods from the Dominican Republic in 2007. The top imports were cotton apparel and household goods at $575 million; apparel and household goods of textiles other than cotton or wool at $450 million and scientific, medical and hospital equipment at $414 million.

For more information about U.S. efforts to improve product safety, visit: http://www.importsafety.gov/.

HHS News Release: Secretary Leavitt Travels to México and Central America to Advance Product Safety Efforts