Wednesday, June 28th 2000 - 21:00 UTC

North Triangle agreement.

Mexico and three Central American countries formalised this week the North Triangle free trade agreement, the result of eight years of negotiations and a step closer to creating a common market that will extend from Mexico to Panama.

The treaty in this first stage includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador but Mexico already has bilateral agreements with Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and is currently holding discussions with Panama.

The North Triangle agreement becomes effective next January 2001 but has a gradual approach with the progressive elimination of tariffs and regulations to discipline trade among the four partners, including services, origin clauses, customs, safeguards, sanitary measures and even a mechanism for solving controversies.

The 23 million market represent the main export market in Latinamerica for Mexico, with sales of over a billion US dollars, equivalent to those of Brazil, Argentina and Chile together.Sugar was excluded from the agreement as well as some textiles from Honduras.

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