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June 15, 2005

Senate Committee votes on CAFTA...well, sort of...

From the Washington Times:

The Central American Free Trade Agreement cleared an important hurdle yesterday after the Bush administration pledged to discuss "any reasonable proposals" to allay sugar-industry concerns about the deal.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 11-9 in favor of CAFTA after an informal hearing. ...

CAFTA is a set of trade and investment rules for the United States, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The Bush administration says the pact would boost U.S. exports while cementing economic and political reform in a region troubled by civil war through the 1980s. But opponents say CAFTA does too little to protect workers and will damage some U.S. industries -- especially sugar-cane and sugar-beet growers.

...but Agence France-Presse has a different take:

The Senate Finance Committee voted 11-9 in a nonbinding "mock" vote to approve the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, known as DR-CAFTA, being pushed by President George W. Bush.

The nonbinding vote came after the Bush administration agreed with a Republican senator's call to participate in talks with the sugar industry, which has strongly opposed the pact.

Hmm, was it a vote or a “mock” vote?

Those who are against CAFTA include StopCAFTA.com. There argument is:

Why is it that in America, in just three generations, [has] managed to outstrip the world's total progress for six thousand years? How was it possible that our republic, with less than seven per cent of the earth's population, was able to create more wealth than all the other billions of people in the world?

The reason is that Americans have made more effective use of their human energies. And they were able to do so because they were blessed with liberty -- the mainspring of all human progress.

Economic progress — which begins with the invention of tools, and the exchange system deriving therefrom — is inseparable from liberty. Yet each nation in history, with the single exception of America, made the fatal mistake of restricting freedom, and thereby stifling progress.

The internationalists have rejected these well-established lessons and seek to regulate the world.

From the Eagle Forum:

CAFTA is a dangerous power grab that threatens our national sovereignty. Under CAFTA, state legislatures would relinquish their right to regulate utilities, land use, and taxpayer-funded contracts. CAFTA includes hundreds of pages of grants of vague authority to foreign tribunals. It wouldn't take a very activist foreign judge to read his own interpretation into language that requires us to use the "least trade-restrictive" regulations and to change our laws so they are "no more burdensome than necessary."

CAFTA would also prohibit any preference states could give to contractors in their state. Any Central American country could file a complaint, and the state would have to rely for its defense on the U.S. Government that has already agreed to CAFTA's rules. If President Bush is successful in starting private accounts in Social Security, WTO rules would require us to let foreign money managers and insurers bid to manage our retirement.

While making trade with Central America would, in the short term, hurt some American businesses, the short should never be the goal of government. From what my wife, who's been to Nicaragua twice, tells me, the people there are hard working but the nation suffers from staggering unemployment. Yes, the greatest part of that would be from corruption in the government. I'm told the previous president of Nicaragua made of with millions before he left office, and the current president is finding that he's putting his own political career in jeopardy by trying to address the corruption.

But in the long term, if the two problems of political corruption can be dealt with, American business would benefit from added markets to sell their products.

I haven't been through the actually proposed law, but I see helping the economies of these nations as a good thing, as long as we can also use it to curb the political corruption there, as well. Unfortunately that's not the focus of either side of the argument, from what I am reading.

Posted by Danny Carlton at June 15, 2005 07:03 AM

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