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Canada building trade ties with Honduras

Canada and Honduras are conducting bilateral talks for a free trade agreement, abandoning 10 years of discussion with the Central American Four (CA4) for a regional agreement that also included El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
The two countries held talks in Tegucigalpa mid-February, building on meetings last December in Ottawa.

“Honduras offers promising opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers,” Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan said in a press release. A department official added that trade between the countries has more than doubled in the last decade.
Experts on the region say Canada has something to offer the Honduran government beyond its tariff-free goods: legitimacy. After the ousting of leftist President Manuel Zelaya in a 2009 coup and the election of Porfirio Lobo’s centre-right government, Honduras has been shunned by many of its neighbours and is seeking allies. Canada’s involvement in the talks signals its acceptance of the government, granting it a degree of legitimacy.

Negotiations between Canada and the CA4 began in 2001, with 10 rounds held before the talks stalled in 2004. After the U.S. signed its own agreement with Central American countries in 2005, more talks began in 2009 and 2010 before Canada and Honduras broke away from the CA4 for bilateral talks.

Canada is interested in Central American telecommunications, environmental equipment, automotive goods and construction equipment.

LAC holds biggest loss for forest coverage

Latin America and the Caribbean recorded the highest net forest loss of any region in the world over the last decade, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s report, State of the World’s Forests 2011.

With nearly half its territory covered in forest that represents 22 per cent of the world’s forested area, the region had the most to lose, with agriculture and urbanization as the leading causes of decline. While forest area decreased in Central and South America, the decline slowed, with Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay and the Caribbean increasing their wooded areas.

The region holds 57 per cent of the world’s primary forests, which account for 75 per cent of its total forested areas. Although planted forests have expanded over the last decade, their proportion is still significantly below the world average.

Woodlands cover 34 per cent of North America, representing 17 per cent of the world’s forests. A net gain in U.S. forest area cancelled out a decline in Mexico and a stable Canada to place the region in the black over the last 20 years. Fifteen per cent of North American forests are designated for the conservation of biological diversity, compared to 14 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 12 per cent worldwide.

While global employment in forestry declined between 1990 and 2005, Latin America and the Caribbean saw it rise by 3.4 per cent from 2000 to 2005. The region has more than 350,000 full-time jobs in the primary production of goods from forests, excluding employment in wood processing industries.

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