El Salvador continues to be dependent upon external support and world commodity prices for its economic stability and well-being, particularly from the United States. The Hurricane Mitch and earthquake disasters prompted a tremendous response from the international community, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens alike. Following the hurricane alone, 961 tons of goods and food were received in El Salvador. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates contributions in cash given directly to the Salvadoran government totaled US $4.3 million. The U.S. government provided US $37.7 million in assistance through USAID and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Defense. After the 2001 earthquakes, the U.S. government responded with military assistance for rescue operations, emergency supplies, and damage assessment teams. USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance provided assistance totaling more than US $14 million. In addition, the Department of Defense provided more than US $11 million. For long-term reconstruction, the international community offered a total aid package of US $1.3 billion, over US $110 million of it from the United States. In March 2002, President Bush of the United States made a short visit to El Salvador, pledging even more aid for 2002, and hoping to work out a Free Trade Agreement. Bush also stated that El Salvador is considered a close friend and ally of the United States, and referred to Flores as "mi amigo" (my friend in Spanish).
Flores continues to expand the Salvadoran economy, pursuing an aggressive strategy of export-led growth together with a strong program of boosting foreign investment and increasing Central American integration. He is expected to pursue full North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) parity for El Salvador, though the immediate prospects seem dim. Moreover, the region's economic troubles have resulted in a new wave of emigrants moving to the United States in search of jobs and money to send home. In 2001, U.S. president George W. Bush offered "temporary protected status" to undocumented Salvadorans. Reports indicate that Flores may be relying too heavily on this "gift" of the United States, hoping that the legalization of 100,000 Salvadorans may be possible, which could produce and additional US $300 million a year in family remittances.
In 2002, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela was briefly replaced by an interim government. Although he was quickly reinstated, Flores was alone among Latin American leaders in expressing support for the interim government, a move that was extremely unpopular in both El Salvador and the region.
El Salvador is a member of the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Central American Common Market (CACM), the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), and the Central American Integration System (SICA). It also participates in the Central American Security Commission (CASC), which seeks to promote regional arms control. El Salvador belongs to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is pursuing regional free trade agreements. An active participant in the Summit of the Americas process, El Salvador chairs a working group on market access under the Free Trade Area of the Americas initiative. El Salvador has joined its six Central American neighbors in signing the Alliance for Sustainable Development, known as the Conjunta Centroamerica-USA or CONCAUSA to promote sustainable economic development in the region.