San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Interpretive Clauses Tacked on to CAFTA

Legislators have been tacking interpretive clauses onto the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) this week and last, trying to clarify their positions and interpretations of controversial parts of the trade pact.

The Legislative Assembly s International Affairs Commission has passed a slew of motions that say the trade agreement, for example, will not intrude upon the nation s territorial sovereignty, sovereignty over the country s water resources, and the ability to set its own policies on the environment, education, labor and arms control.

There have been many interpretations, readings, and even myths read into CAFTA we took into consideration the concerns of all groups, and from there, we decided to clarify these points, said National Liberation Party legislator Fernando Sánchez, who is on the commission.

He said the interpretive clauses provide a chance for legislators to make clear their positions on details of the trade pact. It also clarifies the legislative spirit of the agreement when it was being debated, for judges to take into consideration if they are to make future rulings about the trade pact, Sánchez said.

Costa Rica is the only one of seven countries that have signed onto the trade pact that has not ratified it. Among other things, CAFTA would reduce tariffs between the United States and Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.

The Legislative Assembly voted two weeks ago to give the International Affairs Commission until Dec. 12 to send the trade pact to the assembly floor for further debate so it can be voted on (TT, Nov. 3).


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