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US-DR-CAFTA

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


Dominican business criticizes FTAs
Dominican businesspeople do not see any advantages on the Free Trade Agreement signed between the Dominican Republic, the US and Central America (CAFTA-DR), said Ignacio Mendez, president of the Dominican Industrials Association.
The ravaging effects of capitalism on my hometowns
What will become of Costa Rica? That’s the question on my mind, now that my adopted country has narrowly accepted CAFTA. Our national slogan is "Pura vida!" meaning "pure life," and it’s commonly used as an affirmation that life is good. It’s easy to understand how such an expression could catch on here: Costa Rica has virtually no enemies, a temperate climate, and a hell of a lot of good beaches. However, as an expatriate whose previous hometowns have been despoiled by global capitalism, I find it difficult to imagine that life will be as pure or as good once the effects of CAFTA begin to kick in.
Costa Rica telecom market seen opening soon
Costa Rica, one of the few Latin America countries still with a state-run telephone sector, is expected soon to open to big foreign players as part of a trade deal with the United States.
Dominican Republic not eligible for money from DR-CAFTA
The Dominican Republic and Guatemala are the only two countries in DR-CAFTA that have not been able to access money from the Millennium Account due to internal issues.
Trade deal spurred foreign investment record, Dominican Central Bank says
Direct foreign investment in Dominican Republic jumped to US$1.7 billion in 2007, year in which the DR-Cafta trade accord took effect in the country, the Central Bank said.
Gildan may get caught up in U.S. election politics on Honduras tariff ruling
Canadian sock manufacturing giant Gildan Activewear Inc. (TSX:GIL) could get caught in the middle of U.S. election-year politics as the Bush administration decides whether to end the company’s duty-free shipments of socks from Honduras.
Costa Rican Indigenous protest FTA
Hundreds of Costa Rican indigenous people began a protest against the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States. They accused the FTA of imposing the use of patented seeds that prevent traditional crops and warned that the use of transgenic seeds from the United States would affect ancestral crops closely linked to the people’s view of the world and spirituality.
Costa Rica wins 7-month CAFTA deadline extension
Costa Rica has won a seven-month extension from its U.S. and regional trade partners to pass laws required for its entry into the CAFTA free trade pact, President Oscar Arias said on Wednesday.
In 1 year, Dominican Republic lost RD$2.54B from Dr-Cafta trade pact
Dominican Republic has lost from the Dr-Cafta trade pact, which took effect one year ago on Saturday, RD$2.54 billion from lost tax revenues, the Customs Agency (DGA) said in a statement.
El Salvador: Benefits of free trade deal still remote
The Salvadoran government had proclaimed that from the moment of its entry into force, the free trade agreement with the United States would boost the local economy, creating thousands of jobs, so that even street vendors would be exporting their typical snacks. But nearly two years later, the economic paradise has yet to arrive.