SANTO DOMINGO.- Dominican exports to the United States fell by 6.9 percent last year to $4.2 billion. That contrasts with the other CAFTA countries, which all increased their exports to the United States, according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of new data from the US Census Bureau. However, thanks to a 13.8 percent increase in U.S. exports to the Dominican Republic - to $6.1 billion - total trade grew by 4.3 percent to $10.3 billion.

That means the Dominican Republic continues being the largest U.S. trade partner in the CAFTA region and the seventh-largest trade partner in Latin America. All in all, the CAFTA boosted its trade with the United States by 7.9 percent to $41.2 billion last year. That was better than the Andean Community, but lower than Mercosur.

U.S. trade with the region ended up growing by 6.2 percent to a record $561.8 billion, U.S. exports to Latin America expanded by 9.2 percent to $230.6 billion, while imports from Latin America increased by 4.2 percent to $331.1 billion.

Paraguay saw the strongest percentage increase in trade (34.7 percent), while Haiti posted the strongest decline (8.8 percent). Peru led the way in terms of the strongest growth in U.S. exports in Latin America - 40.8 percent - while Haiti again posted the worst result - a decline of 13.1 percent. In terms of U.S. imports from Latin America, Cuba posted the strongest increase (200 percent) despite the U.S. trade embargo due to special exemptions and a small base figure. Cuba is still the smallest U.S. trade partner in Latin America. Meanwhile, Ecuador posted the worst result in terms of U.S. imports, seeing a 13.5 percent decline.

Thanks to strong growth, Brazil replaced Venezuela as the second-largest U.S. trade partner in Latin America, while Colombia passed Chile in U.S. trade.