Integration at a Glance

What’s the integration process?

The integration process has a fundamental objective of bringing Central America and the Dominican Republic as a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development.

The modern history of Central American integration began on October 14th 1951, when Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, created the Organization of Central American States (Spanish acronym ODECA). The Organization reached significant achievements and established the bases for the region´s economical, social and political integration.

With the validation of the Tegucigalpa Protocol to the Charter of the Organization of Central American States (ODECA), during the early 90s, the Central American Integration System was created, representing the political and institutional framework for the integration process.

The integration concept proposed in the Tegucigalpa Protocol and embodied by SICA, includes several areas of human activity, complementing each other while promoting synergies. This systemic process, which was reaffirmed by the Sustainable Development Alliance, consists of four main pillars: political, social-cultural, economical, and the sustainable management of natural resources.

Who are we?

SICA Member States are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic as Associated Member State.

The Region has a rich biodiversity, and serves as a bridge for the Americas, with the Panama Canal connecting the two large oceans surrounding Latin America.

SICA Member States’ population is estimated at more than 45 million people, with a Gross Domestic Product of $108 million, and international investments for $3,000 million.

México, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, the United States of America, Ecuador, Uruguay and Colombia, are part of SICA as Regional Observers; Spain, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, South Korea, France, The Holy See, the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, Morocco, Qatar and Turkey are the System’s extra regional observers.

Why should we integrate?

There are several reasons why integration is important for Central America and the Dominican Republic, including:

  • The significantly reduced size of their populations, territories and economies, which permanently condition their development model and international relations.
  • Some of the challenges faced by SICA Member States cannot be properly addressed from national perspectives. Among those challenges are the fight against poverty and inequality, appropriate insertion in the political and economical extra regional atmosphere, natural resources protection, disaster management and prevention, and the fight against organized crime and security.
  • Integration has proved in the past its positive contribution to the resolution of conflicts in the Region, including the civil wars of the 80s.

The Tegucigalpa Protocol does not specify a timetable or condition of involvement for integration. SICA Member States can decide how they proceed in the process.

What have we accomplished so far?

Some of the most significant achievements of SICA, benefiting its Member States’ populations, include:

  • Consolidation of intraregional commerce of goods and services.
  • Capacity to represent the Region as a negotiating block on the most important international political forums, as well as better capacity to negotiate extra regional free trade agreements.
  • On migration, one of the oldest but most significant achievements of SICA is the free movement of its people through the CA-4 Agreement between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, which has allowed the reduction of customs and migration controls facilitating transit for citizens.
  • Coordination among Member States to address the issue of security and the establishment of a regional perspective, complementing at the same time national level policies.
  • Institutionalization of SICA’s Consultative Committee, which groups business, labor, academic sector and civil society groups, organized at a regional level. The Committee is continuing to successfully fulfill its mission by offering advice to the General Secretariat of SICA as well as being a mutual exchange platform among the different sectors.
  • Through the Central American Educational and Cultural Coordination (CECC), important results have been accomplished for the harmonization of the educational systems, for them to not only strengthen the productive capacity of the Region but to allow its citizens to fully enjoy the benefits of the integration process.
  • The establishment in Spain of the Central American Tourism Agency (CATA), a SICA initiative, has allowed the promotion of Central America and the Dominican Republic, as an attractive tourist destination; its effectiveness has resulted in the increase of multi destination tourists coming to the region.
  • The SICA Council of Ministers of Health has developed an integrated negotiation process for the joint acquisition of medications, which has allowed the region to see substantial savings.
  • On the protection and management of the environmt, significant results have been achieved in the coordination and regionalization of projects, lead by the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD). For example, initiatives such as the control on lobster fishing have contributed to the protection of the Central American biological corridor.

Where are we going?

Central America is currently working on important projects, for the perfection of the regional integration process:

  • The European Union – Central America Association Agreement that goes beyond Free Trade, and includes political dialogue, cooperation and commerce.
  • Under the leadership of the Central America Security Commission and supported by SICA’s General Secretariat Democratic Security Unit, and several regional and extra regional entities, efforts are being made for the implementation of the Central America Security Strategy, in order to provide a transnational solution to the challenges of organized crime and drug trafficking.
  • The System is currently implementing a consultation for the Central America Municipal Autonomy Charter, aimed to improve the efficiency, efficacy and self-management capacity of local governments to better solve citizen problems.
  • On the topic of climate change in the energy sector, there is a Sustainable Energy Strategy, which seeks to influence the energetic market of the region, through the development of sustainable energy initiatives, rational and efficient use of electricity, broad access in rural areas, as well as production and use of bio fuels.
  • From the idea that integration is an instrument itself for the development of the Central American States, and not a future goal, SICA’s main challenge in the upcoming year is to take the integration process to the “everyday citizen”, involving the participation of more civil society organizations. For that purpose, SICA has created a series of mechanisms for citizen participation as well as “socialization” forums, to collect opinions and proposals for national Governments to include on the policy making process.

How can you get involved?

The Central American Integration System promotes active participation in the integration process by members of civil society, through SICA’s Consultative Committee, which gathers organizations of the labor and academic sector, population groups, business chambers, among others.