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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


Letter to reject environment chapter of CAFTA (Eng/Esp)
We are enclosing a letter in English and Spanish proposed by different Central American and USA organizations to be delivered in our respective Congresses. We are protesting the contents and consecuences that the US-DR-CAFTA will bring in general to the society and the environment, but especially in this case Chapter No. 17 related to environment.
Guatemala postpones ratification of FTA with US
The Guatemalan Congress on Wednesday postponed for at least one week the ratification of the country`s free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, following massive protests Tuesday by thousands of demonstrators.
Thousands of Guatemalans protest against ratification of FTA with US
Thousands of public-school teachers, peasants, university students and workers rallied in Guatemala City Tuesday against the imminent approval of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States.
Honduras ratifies CAFTA
Honduras on Thursday became the second Latin American country after El Salvador to ratify a free trade agreement with the United States. Lawmakers immediately fled Congress following their decision, however, to avoid 1,000 government employees who were protesting the measure outside.
Clash continues on US-Central America trade deal
Protection of pharmaceutical patents may not be the biggest reason the Bush administration is struggling to line up congressional votes for a free trade agreement with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, but it remains critical to its passage.
Central American Ombudsmen propose referendum to FTA
Central American Ombudsmen will end a three-day meeting in Guatemala urging regional governments to put to popular referendum the Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States.
Dominican organizations protest FTA
Sixty-two Dominican organizations, integrated as Alternative Social Forum, will demand that the National Congress reject the FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the United States, coordinators reported Monday.
Trade pact proposal has US upside
A proposal to liberalize US trade with six Central American and Caribbean nations has received broad support from US agricultural groups. But the fate of the US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement remains uncertain.
El Salvador: Congress approves FTA
The Legislative Assembly on Dec. 18 ratified the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), signed in May by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua with the United States. El Salvador was the first country to ratify the accord.
Conrad: Sugar negotiations are a recipe for disaster
"Negotiating sugar trades in bilateral free trade agreements is a recipe for disaster for the U.S. sugar industry," warned Sen. Kent Conrad Friday.