Legal Revision of CAFTA Texts Concludes

May 14, 2004

NEGOTIATORS in Washington, D.C., concluded the legal revision and official translation of the proposed Central America Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States last Friday, the daily La Nación reported.The revision was supposed to end three days earlier, but was delayed as a result of confusion regarding the interpretation of certain provisions, particularly in agriculture and textiles.Negotiators were able to clarify confusion regarding how the inclusion of the Dominican Republic affected the region’s textile quotas.It was interpreted that Dominican Republic’s inclusion would not affect the size of the part of the yearly 100-millionsquare-meter quota of products made using fabrics imported from Mexico and Canada that each of the five Central American countries will be allowed to export to the United States with preferential access.Several hours were spent discussing the performance requirements for chicken and rice. For these products, importers must buy local production before conducting imports.It was also agreed that each country would be allowed to use its own legislation to decide which producers benefit from import quotas, instead of a “first-come, first-serve” system.Trade officials have announced that the signing of the CAFTA texts has been scheduledfor May 28 in Washington, D.C. Earlier this month, thousands of marchers filled the streets of Central America’s capital cities to protest the free trade agreement with the United States (TT, May 7).

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