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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
Photo: Public Citizen


CAFTA-DR partners agree to fix technical flaws in agreement
The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Commission has approved several changes to CAFTA-DR rules of origin that are expected to benefit the Western Hemisphere textile/apparel supply chain.
Cables reveal secrets on CAFTA
Officials in Oscar Arias’ administration knew in advance how the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) would rule on the legality of a sensitive bill that was key to Costa Rica’s implementation of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), cables released this week by WikiLeaks reveal.
Pacheco: Costa Rica Did Not Have To Take Orders From Any Country
Speaking on the program Nuestra Voz by Amelia Rueda, former president Abel Pacheco, in his characteristic self-assurance admitted that he received pressure from the U.S. for the approval of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as revealed by Wikileaks and published on Thursday by La Nación.
EE. UU. amenaza por situación laboral
EE. UU. expresó ayer insatisfacción por la forma como Guatemala resuelve sus preocupaciones respecto del cumplimiento de los derechos laborales, y adelantó que ante la falta de una respuesta adecuada, tendrá que tomar medidas.
EE. UU. adiestró y financió a Policía para marchas anti-TLC
La Embajada de Estados Unidos en San José participó en la definición de la estrategia policial, entrenó y supervisó el adiestramiento de oficiales de la Fuerza Pública y rentó buses para trasladarlos en las marchas de protesta contra el TLC, según se desprende de varios cables diplomáticos obtenidos por WikiLeaks.
Arias government knew how the Constitutional Court would vote on the FTA
The government of Oscar Arias knew, in advance, when and how the Constitutional Court would vote on the bill to implement CAFTA, after being challenged in a first review by the judges, according to Wikileaks
Wikileaks reveals US pressure to FTA with Costa Rica
The US Embassy in San Jose put pressure to encourage the adoption of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the US and Costa Rica, according to Wikileaks cables released today by the newspaper La Nación.
Five years post-CAFTA
Five years after the entry into force of CAFTA-DR, several international bodies declared this trade treaty made little or no contribution to El Salvadoran economy.
CAFTA-DR partners agree to fix technical flaws in agreement
The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Commission held its first meeting last week in El Salvador and approved several changes to CAFTA-DR rules of origin
Costa Rica: Dominican Republic will respect pact “in a nice way or not”
Central American countries are filing a complaint against Dominican Republic before the World Trade Organization for violating CAFTA