US, Central American Nations to Sign Free Trade Agreement
The pact comes as US exports to the region totaled $11 billion in 2003
WASHINGTON, DC - 05/17/04 - The US-Central American Free Trade Agreement? (CAFTA) will be signed Friday, May 28 at the Washington, DC office of the Organization of American States (OAS).??
The respective trade ministers of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua will sign on behalf of their nations with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick signing the new pact on behalf of the US.
The White House first announced plans to negotiate a free trade pact with Central America in a speech at the OAS in January 2002. Following the passage of Trade Promotion Authority and the successful conclusion of a year-long negotiation, the President notified Congress in February of its desire to enter into the CAFTA.?
The US has finished negotiations with the Dominican Republic to include that nation in the CAFTA, but a period of Congressional consultation on that agreement required under the Trade Act hasn't yet concluded. A date for signing an agreement that includes the Dominican Republic will be announced when those consultations are complete, said the Office of the USTR.?
The Administration plans to submit a single legislative package to Congress that combines the CAFTA and the planned Dominican Republic trade pact. Representatives of the Dominican Republic have been invited to participate in the May 28 event as observers.?
US exports to Central America have ballooned 71% since 1996 and totaled $11 billion in 2003.?
More than 70% of CAFTA imports already enter the United States duty-free under the Caribbean Basin Initiative and Generalized System of Preference (GSP) programs; the CAFTA will provide reciprocal access for US products and services.?
According to the Department of Commerce, Including the Dominican Republic in the CAFTA will create the second-largest US export market in Latin America behind Mexico.?
CAFTA negotiations began in January 2003 and took place in nine general rounds of negotiations in San Salvador, El Salvador; San Jose, Costa Rica; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Managua, Nicaragua; and in the US in Cincinnati, New Orleans, Houston, and Washington.?
An agreement with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua was reached last December, and with Costa Rica in January. Negotiations to include the Dominican Republic in the CAFTA began in January 2004 and concluded in March.
Last month the US and Panama conducted their first round of free trade negotiations, and FTA negotiations with Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will begin this week.
Negotiations are under way with Bahrain and with the five nations of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and negotiations with Thailand are expected to begin shortly.
The US currently has free trade agreements with Israel, Canada and Mexico (NAFTA), Jordan, Chile, and Singapore.
Washington has completed FTAs with eight countries - Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Australia and Morocco - over the past six months.
New and pending FTA partners, taken together, would constitute the US' third-largest export market and the sixth-largest economy in the world.
back, or read the latest Front Page stories:
US, EU Sign Landmark Wine Agreement
WASHINGTON, DC – 11/27/05 – California wine producers are set to take advantage of a new agreement between the US and the European Union assuring that there will be no disruption in the transatlantic wine trade before a broader wine agreement reached in September takes effect; exports of US wines have grown dramatically in the past 10 years, with the European Union - led by the United Kingdom - accounting for a full 66% of total US overseas wine sales in 2004.
Bye, Bye Byrdie?
WASHINGTON, DC – 11/22/05 – The House of Representatives has passed a repeal of the controversial Byrd Amendment that authorizes payment of anti-dumping duties revenue to US companies that have petitioned the government to investigate imports allegedly dumped on the US market; the Byrd Amendment was ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2003, but its repeal remains uncertain as the current version of the current Senate bill contains no such provision.
Time is Running Out, But Hope Springs Eternal
WASHINGTON, DC – 11/18/05 – With less than four weeks left before the start of the scheduled WTO ministerial in Hong Kong, the US is still ''hopeful'' that the planned global trade meeting will succeed in improving the lot of the world's devloping economies; but, USTR Rob Portman slams the European Union for blocking a successful conclusion to the sputtering agricultural subsidy negotiations that have threatened to derail the upcoming ministerial.