Tegucigalpa, Honduras Honduras and neighboring Nicaragua on Saturday joined a regional free trade agreement with the United States that has provoked protests throughout Central America.
At a ceremony to inaugurate the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said his country is embarking on a "different and extremely important path for the strengthening of democracy."
The treaty, he added, is "a way for us to broaden our growth possibilities and reduce our poverty."
Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos - at an agricultural plant outside his country's capital Managua - certified his country's first export under the treaty, a $20,000 shipment of beans.
A spokesman for Bolanos said Nicaragua hopes to increase its exports by 20 percent and create more jobs.
Last month, El Salvador became the first Central American country to join the pact.