The US-Central America Free Trade Agreement, commonly referred to as “CAFTA,” was signed in December 2003 after twelve short months of negotiation. The negotiations involved the US, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Costa Rica at first refused to join the agreement, then changed its position in late January 2004. The US separately negotiated a bilateral treaty with the Dominican Republic, with a view to folding the deal, and the country itself, into the US-CAFTA scheme.
The US-CAFTA was signed late May 2004, and the Dominican Republic became an additional party to it in August 2004. Since then, the accord has been officially renamed the “United States-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement” or US-DR-CAFTA. But the overall agreement — which a lot of people continue calling just “CAFTA” — still needs ratification by all parties to go into force.
CAFTA is a wide-ranging agreement covering many areas: agriculture, telecommunications, investment, trade in services (from water distribution to gambling), intellectual property, the environment, etc. It essentially serves US business interests by giving them a concrete and high-level set of rights to operate in Central America. Some US sectors, such as sugar producers, feel threatened by the treaty. But by and large, the threats are mainly against the Central American countries which signed on, as it opens the depths of their economies — public and private — to the interests and power of US companies.
In July 2005, US Congress approved the DR-CAFTA and Bush signed it into law in early August. The Central American parliaments eventually also approved it. For the Dominican Republic, the treaty took effect in 2006.
Costa Rica was the Central American country with the strongest resistance to DR-CAFTA. There were large public demonstrations and information campaigns, and a broad grouping of civil society organizations, from trade unions to small farm organizations, signed on. This coalition successfully pushed for a referendum on ratification, which was held on 7 October 2007. The result: 51.62% in favour and 48.38% opposed. The result was considered binding since more than 40% of the electorate voted. In view of these results, CAFTA was ratified.
On December 23, President Bush issued a proclamation to implement the DR-CAFTA for Costa Rica as of 1 January 2009.
last update: May 2012
EU-secretdeals.info - new website reveals texts from Europe’s US and Canadian trade negotiations (TTIP, CETA) | 7-Mar-2014
Sign the petition to candidates running in the 2014 European elections: Stop the TTIP and CETA! | 6-Mar-2014
New report: No fracking way How the EU-US trade deal risks expanding fracking in Europe and the US | 6-Mar-2014
AFL-CIO, more than 40 other organizations call for public consultations on investor rights in trade deals | 3-Mar-2014
Rough trade: the new corporate power grab | 1-Mar-2014
Trade chief misleads on GM foods | 18-Feb-2014
Night anti-TPPA protest for M’sians in the dark | 14-Feb-2014
Carta Abierta a Cumbre del Mercosur | 13-Feb-2014
What is TTIP? | 13-Feb-2014
Public forum on anti-people “trade” deal | 13-Feb-2014
Déclaration de la Plateforme des organisations de la société civile de l’Afrique de l’Ouest sur l’accord de Cotonou (POSCAO) sur l’APE | 10-Feb-2014
German public TV videos on TTIP - now in EN | 5-Feb-2014
Is the TPP dead? | 5-Feb-2014