bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

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
Photo: Public Citizen


US reassumes its dirty war against Nicaragua
Ortega continues to condemn the destabilization plans on the part of the government in Washington, and in the last few weeks has attacked the Free Trade Agreement signed by his country with the United States
Repression on FTA opponents denounced
The Costa Rican Human Rights Association denounced the increase of the police repression against local citizens, students and social leaders opposed to the Free Trade Agreement with US in their Sunday statement.
UNI solidarity mission urges Costa Rica to reject the proposed Free Trade Agreement
UNI Telecom Americas President told the Minister of Labour and Deputies from the Costa Rica National Assembly that the country should look to lessons from other free trade agreements, including from his country Mexico, where poverty had not decreased and the minimum wage was in effect lower than before the 43 trade agreements signed by Mexico.
University students protest tribunal resolution on CAFTA campaigns
Students from the University of Costa Rica and National University organized the protest against a Supreme Elections Tribunal resolution of July 12 which said that university personnel, like other public officials, cannot use public resources to campaign for or against the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).
CAFTA’s October referendum: A death sentence for Costa Rican foreign investment?
With a little under two months until the October referendum on the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, time is quickly running out for Costa Rican president Óscar Arias to gain the necessary public support to pass CAFTA. The trade pact is strongly opposed by those who believe that it will not help the Costa Rican economy, while being significantly beneficial to the US.
Costa Rica urged to fess up FTA survey
The Pro-Liberation Front against the Central America Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) demanded the Costa Rican government publish results of a poll it commissioned about the level of public support for the agreement.
Costa Rica opposition leader calls for renegotiation of Cafta
The top opposition leader in Costa Rica said he wants to renegotiate a free-trade agreement with the US, citing as a precedent the US revamping of a similar agreement with Peru.
Anti-CAFTA camp protests outside tribunal
Leaders of the movement against the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) spoke to about 200 people yesterday outside the Supreme Elections Tribunal in San José.
Guatemala and Costa Rica: in and out of CAFTA
The growth in exports being celebrated by the Bank of Guatemala has nothing to do with CAFTA.
Guatemalans say US free trade costly
One year after CAFTA-DR took effect in Guatemala, the Guatemalan Social Organizations Collective (COS) presented evidence on Wednesday that its alleged benefits are deceptive and false.