The Central American Free-TradeAgreement with the United States(CAFTA) was signed for a second timeyesterday, this time with the inclusion ofthe Dominican Republic, according to theCosta Rican Foreign Trade Ministry(COMEX).The foreign trade ministers of CostaRica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador,Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, andU.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellicksigned the agreement at a ceremony at theWhite House in Washington, D.C.On May 28, the trade ministers of thefive Central American countries and theUnited States signed CAFTA for the firsttime. Dominican Republic was present atthe signing as a special guest (TT, May28).Before Dominican Republic couldbecome a full member of CAFTA, negotiatorsneeded to define how CAFTAwould affect Dominican Republic’s traderelations with the five Central Americancountries, which already had a separatefree-trade agreement between them.After several meetings in June, all partiesreached an agreement, making it possiblefor Dominican Republic to join theU.S. trade pact (TT, July 16).“We feel very pleased to have successfullyconcluded this phase and be able tosign an agreement in which all sevencountries define clear rules that will governtheir trade relations,” said AlbertoTrejos, Costa Rica’s Foreign TradeMinister.The next phase of the CAFTA processwill be for each country to submit it to itsrespective legislative body for ratification.CAFTA will go into effect once theUnited States and at least one of the othersix countries ratifies it (TT, July 9, 30),although it will not go into effect in membercountries that have not ratified it.
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