[mgj-discuss] Wash. Times: Central America Trade Ministers in D.C.
levy-listsonly at cox.net
Wed Mar 24 14:03:32 EST 2004
>Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 10:40:04 -0500
>From: Tom Ricker <tomr at quixote.org>
>Organization: Quest for Peace/Quixote Center
>Subject: [cafta-talk] Central America Trade Ministers in D.C.
>Trade ministers from Central America are in town. Story below. This
>story is from the Washington Times. Ideas to challenge - CAFTA is the
>capstone of Central American nations' long struggle for democracy, and
>El Salvador's election Sunday was a referendum in favor of CAFTA.
>The story indicates that while CAFTA will likely not come up this year -
>it may. Bush is feeling the heat to get it done.
>Central America presses for trade pact
>By Jeffrey Sparshott
>THE WASHINGTON TIMES
>Central American leaders are in Washington this week to press Congress
>and the administration for quick consideration of a recently completed
>trade pact amid worries that a vote may be delayed or derailed because
>of upcoming elections.
>"Yes, indeed, we are very concerned," said Mario Arana, Nicaragua's
>development, industry and commerce minister. "That is in part why we are
>here. We want to convey our
>concerns about not passing [the agreement] this year."
>The Central American Free Trade Agreement with Costa Rica, El
>Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the recently added
>Dominican Republic would lower trade barriers on industrial and
>agricultural goods, and for the Latin nations would codify free-market
>principles in a major international agreement.
>The Bush administration last week wrapped up talks with the Dominican
>Republic, the last country added to the package. The agreement requires
>the president's signature and majority
>approval by Congress before it becomes law.
>U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick last week said, "We will do
>our best to get these agreements through" this year.
>But chances that Congress will consider the pact this year are at best
>"I don't think they are good at all. But I don't think we should stop
>pushing for it," said Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican. Mr. Kolbe, a
>strong supporter of CAFTA, met yesterday with Central American trade
>ministers and urged them to continue building support for a vote this
>The Central American trade ministers this week and through the year plan
>to meet with administration officials, legislators, U.S. business groups
>and Hispanic groups as they look to keep the agreement alive. Mr. Arana,
>as well as Miguel Lacayo, El Salvador's economy minister, and Alberto
>Trejos, Costa Rica's trade minister, in separate interviews said they
>would work to build support for a vote as early as possible.
>"We understand the realities of the legislative process, but also we
>will do our best to support the agreement," Mr. Arana said.
>The Central American nations, involved in and destabilized by
>destructive civil wars in the 1980s and 1990s, see CAFTA as a capstone
>of their turn toward democracy, market
>economics and support of the United States even as other Latin American
>nations reject or question U.S. leadership.
>"This is the consolidation of a very difficult, very grave process that
>for some of our neighbors started with civil war. It has taken courage
>and vision to get to this point," Mr.
>In El Salvador, elections Sunday confirmed support for a pro-U.S.,
>free-market path, Mr. Lacayo said. Tony Saca, who won over a
>left-leaning former guerrilla leader, promised to
>continue his party's free-market policies and to press ahead with the
>"Salvadoreans voted for free trade," Mr. Lacayo said, interpreting the
>election results. Mr. Lacayo said he hoped President Bush and CAFTA
>heads of state would be able to sign the agreement in May, allowing
>legislatures in the Central American and Caribbean countries
>to ratify the pact this summer or fall.
>Timing in the United States is less certain. House Republican leaders do
>not believe there are now enough votes to win approval for the
>agreement. Support is missing because CAFTA opponents have tied free
>trade to heavy job losses in some manufacturing sectors, and are
>concerned that the pact does not do enough to enforce worker rights.
>Because of procedural issues, a CAFTA vote is technically not possible
>before late June or, more likely, July, leaving a short window before
>legislators break for the summer and
>then enter the campaign season.
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