For the past few months, this article has focused on the various benefits of the free trade agreement among the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. The agreement, known as CAFTA, is creating a great deal of debate about the merits of free trade and its role in growing the U.S. economy.
In response to the many questions, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has created the “CAFTA Briefing Book”. This On-Line reference material represents a growing body of work supporting CAFTA’s passage and can be found at:
The Briefing Book includes a brief summary of the agreement, the agreement’s full text, and analysis of several important topics in the agreement.
For U.S. small businesses the opportunities presented by the CAFTA are too great to be lost to misunderstandings and misinformation. The five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic are big markets for U.S. small business goods and services. CAFTA evens the playing field by creating a two-way agreement where today only import preferences exist. Upon implementation, more than 80% of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods will become duty-free immediately. For U.S. textile and yarn producers, CAFTA offers the best opportunity to strengthen textile and apparel production in the hemisphere and remain competitive with Asian producers. As some have said, “A vote against CAFTA is a vote for China.”
U.S. small businesses are the engine that drives the U.S. economy. Through constant innovation, the small business sector has created the great prosperity that is America. CAFTA presents the opportunity for U.S. and Central American small businesses to grow together. It creates an environment for US and Central American small businesses to spread that prosperity and generate new wealth.