CAFTA: Stepping Stone to the FTAA: The Central American Free Trade Agreement Would Extend NAFTA-Style Regulations to Central America on the Road to an FTAA-Based Supranational Government of the Americas

By Jasper, William F. | The New American, May 17, 2004 | Go to article overview

CAFTA: Stepping Stone to the FTAA: The Central American Free Trade Agreement Would Extend NAFTA-Style Regulations to Central America on the Road to an FTAA-Based Supranational Government of the Americas


Jasper, William F., The New American


On February 20, President Bush officially notified Congress that he intends to sign the recently negotiated Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). That letter of notification started the clock ticking on the president's so-called fast track trade negotiating authority, which Congress reauthorized in 2002. Under the fast track rules, the president must give Congress a 90-day notice before signing any trade agreement. That means President Bush could sign CAFTA as early as late May, although he could decide to sign at a later date. Once the president signs the agreement and then formally sends it to Congress, the legislators are bound by fast track rules to vote on implementing legislation within 90 legislative days. They may not amend the pact; as with NAFTA and other "free trade" agreements (FTAs), only an up-or-down vote is permitted.

The Bush administration has repeatedly stated that creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)--encompassing all of North and South America--is one of its top priorities, and CAFTA is viewed as an important stepping stone to that ultimate goal. In its January 16, 2002 press release announcing the official opening of CAFTA negotiations, the Bush White House stated: "This negotiation will complement the United States' goal of completing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) no later than January 2005 by increasing the momentum in the hemisphere toward lowering barriers...."

The big question is: Will the administration and its trade allies--Wall Street's corporate Insiders and one-world elites--be able to build enough momentum and marshal sufficient political capital to push this project through Congress in an election year in which jobs, outsourcing, record trade deficits and record budget deficits have become key issues? The 10-year record of NAFTA's broken promises is working against the CAFTA proponents. NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, Canada and the U.S.) has proven disastrous for America, undermining all of our basic resource industries, spurring a massive exodus of U.S. manufacturing plants and jobs, and vastly increasing the influx of illegal aliens into the U.S.

Recently, an even more serious NAFTA threat has become apparent: international tribunals set up under NAFTA have been ruling on U.S. cases, claiming the authority to supersede U.S. court decisions. NAFTA critics (including this magazine) warned about this threat to our national sovereignty and our constitutional protections when NAFTA was debated more than a decade ago. NAFTA proponents scoffed at such concerns; now many of the scoffers are expressing shock at the enormous implications the NAFTA judicial rulings pose to U.S. sovereignty. People are beginning to wonder if similar surprises may be hidden inside the new trade agreements.

Mounting opposition to all FTAs has caused Washington Insiders on both sides of the issue to predict that the White House will not jeopardize Republican seats in Congress by forcing a vote on CAFTA before the November elections. If that turns out to be the case, then the next big question becomes: Will President Bush try to push CAFTA through a special lame-duck session of Congress, as President Clinton did with the World Trade Organization 10 years ago, after the 1994 elections? If he does try a reprise of the Clinton WTO strategy, will the grass-roots opposition be strong enough to overcome a combined White House-Wall Street blitzkrieg?

FTAs: Fraudulent Trade Attacks

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick completed negotiations with four of the CAFTA parties--El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras--in December of last year, following the November Summit of the Americas in Miami. Since then, the administration has added Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to the CAFTA accord.

"CAFTA will streamline trade; promote investment; slash tariffs on goods; remove barriers to trade in services . …

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