CENTRAL AMERICAN INTEGRATION TO BE FOCUS OF PRESIDENTIAL MEET

CENTRAL AMERICAN INTEGRATION TO BE FOCUS OF PRESIDENTIAL MEET

Central American presidents are expected to focus on strengthening their commitment to regional integration during their three-day session here.

The presidents - from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama - are expected to sign a protocol that will update the original 1960 treaty on Central American integration.The protocol goes beyond the enhancement of a free-trade area, and makes a commitment to eventually allow for free movement of labor and capital in the region, as well as customs union, said Rafael Rodriguez, secretary general of Central American secretariat set up to promote regional integration.

Because Costa Rica remains less enthusiastic about integration than its neighbors, the protocol made its objectives "voluntary and gradual," Mr. Rodriguez said.

The region's trade, which peaked in 1980 at $1.1 billion, totaled $900 million in 1992.