Iowa Public Television


CAFTA Critics Take Opposition to D.C.

posted on July 15, 2005

Lifting the ban on Canadian cattle imports will no doubt bolster U.S. efforts to resume beef exports to Japan. Open markets at home also are important to the Bush administration's strategy in the current Doha Round of global trade talks.

This week, U.S. trade negotiators embarked on a whirlwind tour of talks in China and Africa. And President Bush visited North Carolina to promote the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

The accord would end or lower trade barriers with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.

In Washington though, CAFTA critics voiced their concerns again this week. And this time the opposition included Central American citizens.

CAFTA Critics Take Opposition to D.C. CAFTA opponents from Latin America demonstrated in Washington this week, denouncing the accord as a human rights violation. Concerns over labor rights and environmental protections also are key sticking points for CAFTA critics.

The controversial trade deal would phase out protective tariffs and quotas in 6 Central American countries. But opposition remains strong among the U.S. textile and sugar industries.

CAFTA allows for more sugar shipments into U.S. markets. Despite clauses within the trade measure that limit sugar imports, U.S. sugar growers worry any increase will harm their market.

Their opposition was felt this week by Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, who voted for CAFTA on the Senate floor two weeks ago. Sugar beet growers in western Minnesota rejected the notion that the U.S. Department of Agriculture could keep surplus imports out of the country through 2007....calling the plan a "band-aid fix for a long term solution."

The Bush Administration has not wavered in its support of CAFTA. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has discounted sugar industry criticism that the trade deal would harm domestic markets.

The Senate passed CAFTA two weeks ago and the House could take up the measure before the August recess.

Tags: agriculture government Latin America news trade