Trade Summit signals Louisiana-Honduras relationship set to bloom
NEW ORLEANS—Nine days after President Lobo Sosa’s September 7th visit, Louisiana’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted an Honduran delegation to promote an array of trade opportunities between the two regions. Mayra Pineda, president of the Chamber and sister of the Honduran president, introduced approximately 50 guests to an influential and passionate line-up of speakers.
Aline Flores, formerly a student in New Orleans and now president of Honduras’s largest chamber of commerce, set the tone for “Enfoque Honduras” (Business Focus in Honduras), describing the United States as “partner number one.” Already the United States is by far the leading exporter to Honduras with 47 percent, and Louisiana provides 10 percent of that total. She then provided compelling reasons why Americans ought to consider more investment in and trade with the Central American nation.
As a workforce, the nation’s population is young – with a median age of 21 years and more than two million between 18 and 35 years old – increasingly bilingual, and willing to work at low cost. 150 Honduran elementary and high schools are teaching in English and following American curriculums. However, Hondurans remain poor and extremely underemployed. According to the 2009 census, more than half of the working-age population are without employment. Even of those working, 36 percent were earning less than the domestic minimum wage.