Senate approves CAFTA; House up next

| Friday, July 01, 2005

The U.S. Senate has approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which will set up a free trade zone similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement, with this one a bit further south.

CAFTA would set up a free trade zone encompassing the nations of Central America – El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama – as well as the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

U.S. officials reached an agreement with the seven nations in late 2003, but President George W. Bush has been unable to secure approval on Capitol Hill.

Now, with the Senate victory, the administration is hopeful that the agreement will make it past the House, according to news reports.

However, The Associated Press reported that the agreement faces strong opposition from a majority of Democrats in the House. They argue that inadequate worker rights provisions in the agreement will lead to labor abuses.

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