Iowa Public Television


American Sugar Alliance Blasts CAFTA

posted on June 3, 2005

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

Europeans and Americans are battling over subsidies to airplane manufacturers.

Americans and Chinese are fighting over quotas on textiles.

And, Americans and Americans are dueling over free trade agreements.

And so it goes in the international trade arena.

Each battle is in some way important to U.S. agriculture, because no trade issue is resolved in a vacuum. American farmers depend on export markets -- which, in a case like China, can become hypersensitive to seemingly unrelated trade matters, like import quotas on Chinese apparel.

Trade issues also simmer on the home front, where the Bush administration is pushing hard for a free trade deal with Central America. But powerful farm interests disagree with the plan ... and this week used the government's own data to bolster their opposition.

American Sugar Alliance Blasts CAFTA The American Sugar Alliance, or ASA, this week, blasted the Central American Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as CAFTA. Citing an International Trade Commission Report, ASA claims the economic impact of CAFTA would be lower than orginally predicted.p> The International Trade Commission, or ITC, claims CAFTA will benefit the U.S. economy by less than .01 percent. The report projects losses in America's sugar industry to be 38 times greater than in the next closest sector -- textiles. ITC also says CAFTA's effect on farm exports would be much lower than currently promised.

The Bush administration defends CAFTA, saying it would open a market of 44 million consumers for U.S. farm products and manufactured goods. Other proponents say it would foster economic and political stability in Central America and confirm U.S. leadership in larger efforts to open markets worldwide.


Opponents contend CAFTA would result in more Americans losing jobs and a bigger trade deficit. Democrats opposing the agreement think it lacks labor and environmental protections to stop abuses of workers in poor Central American countries. Republicans who oppose the agreement mainly come from textile-producing areas hit hard by foreign competition.

On Tuesday, President Bush called on Congress to pass the deal, but opponents are moving to scrap it. While it took less than three months for the president to push through smaller trade deals, CAFTA has been debated for a year. U.S. officials signed the CAFTA agreement last May, but it must be approved by Congress to take effect.

Tags: agriculture government Latin America news sugar trade