Tags: DR-CAFTA | Crucial | Success | Free | Trade

DR-CAFTA Crucial to Success of Free Trade

Sunday, 24 April 2005 12:00 AM

For the Dominican Republic and Central American countries, DR-CAFTA represents an invaluable opportunity to become prosperous, with more and better tools to fight poverty and increase productivity. The market liberalization of the public services and the agricultural and manufacturing industries is expected to result in more foreign direct investment in the region.

Foreign investment will also be spurred by new regulations that grant foreign companies the same rights as domestic ones and more transparent channels for arbitration and dispute settlement. At the same time, these nations' exports will be granted greater access to the American market – a market of 280 million people with a higher purchasing power than any single country's domestic market.

With steady long-term growth, these countries will experience increased trade, enjoy the benefits of having active and stable economies, and find themselves with more resources to fight poverty, illiteracy and hunger.

For the United States, DR-CAFTA represents an invaluable opportunity to enter another multilateral agreement giving national producers and exporters access to a growing market of nearly 45 million consumers, which will be added to the 387 million consumers currently in the NAFTA zone.

As a result of past bilateral trade agreements, 77 percent of the imports to the United States from the DR-CAFTA countries already enter the country duty-free. However, the passage of DR-CAFTA would immediately eliminate the tariffs on 80 percent of U.S. exports to these countries, thus giving American products a competitive edge compared to global competition.

Furthermore, DR-CAFTA will provide substantial new trade-related economic opportunities for Florida businesses, workers and citizens.

Already, the Central American countries and the Dominican Republic together form Florida's largest trading bloc in the world, accounting for nearly twice as much total trade than with Florida's largest trading partner, Brazil.

DR-CAFTA will impact our state tremendously, as about 55 percent of trade between Central America and the United States and 45 percent of U.S-Caribbean trade now moves through Florida's airports and seaports.

In this era of globalization and trading-bloc formation, countries need to open their markets and become allies with their neighbors in order to experience growth and strengthen the institutional foundations of freedom and democracy, steps which are possible only through multilateral agreements such as DR-CAFTA.

As "a rising tide lifts all boats," the increased trade and investment revenues coupled with strong capacity-building initiatives can provide material benefits to all levels of society, contributing to an overall rise in living standards. The DR-CAFTA includes the strongest protection of workers' rights of any U.S. bilateral or multilateral trade pact, and the Bush administration has also pledged additional funds toward capacity-building efforts to safeguard workers' rights and environmental protections.

When all 34 democracies in the Americas sign the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, the largest free-trading area in the world will become a reality. With a population of 800 million and a gross national product of more than $14 trillion, the FTAA represents a unique opportunity for all the countries in the Americas to capitalize on the benefits of free trade on equal terms.

However, the FTAA will be possible only if the United States Congress ratifies the DR-CAFTA. The DR-CAFTA presents a significant opportunity for Florida's congressional delegation to make a substantial positive contribution to the economic growth of Florida, as Florida in particular stands to benefit tremendously from the passage of the DR-CAFTA, and even more so by the passage of the FTAA.

The DR-CAFTA agreement is the required precursor to the success of continued free trade. We are confident that when the agreement, as well as the other bilateral trade agreements in the region, are completed, the FTAA will subsequently come to fruition. At which point we hope the 34 member nations of the FTAA will then proceed with the selection of Miami as the Permanent Secretariat for the benefit of the entire hemisphere.

Jorge L. Arrizurieta is the president of Florida FTAA, Inc.

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For the Dominican Republic and Central American countries, DR-CAFTA represents an invaluable opportunity to become prosperous, with more and better tools to fight poverty and increase productivity. The market liberalization of the public services and the agricultural and...
DR-CAFTA,Crucial,Success,Free,Trade
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2005-00-24
Sunday, 24 April 2005 12:00 AM
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