"Since Congress passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation in August 2002 (P.L. 107-210), the United States has entered into free trade agreements (FTAs) with Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Central American countries, and Peru. The United States has also concluded FTAs with Colombia and Panama, which await congressional action. Talks on the region-wide Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), by contrast, have stalled. The 110th Congress may consider implementing legislation for one or both of the pending bilateral agreements. This report provides an analytical overview of U.S.-Latin American trade data and trends in support of congressional interest in U.S.-Latin American trade relations. It will be updated. Trade is one of the driving issues in contemporary U.S.-Latin America relations. Although not the largest, Latin America is the fastest growing U.S. regional trade partner, with the exception of Africa, which has had strong export growth based largely on the recent rise of petroleum prices. Between 1996 and 2006, total U.S. merchandise trade (exports plus imports) with Latin America grew by 118% compared to 96% for Asia (driven largely by China), 95% for the European Union, 239% for Africa, and 104% for the world. There are two import caveats. First, most of the growth in Latin American trade was due to Mexico, the largest U.S. regional trade partner in dollar terms. Second, U.S. imports grew more than twice as fast as exports."
CRS Report for Congress, 98-840