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US Applauds Nicaragua's Passage of Free-Trade Pact

United States Applauds Nicaragua's Passage of Free-Trade Pact

CAFTA-DR will strengthen Central American democracies, says USTR

The United States has congratulated the Nicaraguan government for passing the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA-DR.

In a statement issued October 11, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) hailed Nicaragua's action, which took place on the evening of October 10.

The United States and its CAFTA-DR partners "are working towards a target date of January 1, 2006, for implementing this agreement," said the USTR office.

The State Department, in a separate statement issued the same day, welcomed “the Nicaraguan General Assembly’s decision to join with the United States, the Dominican Republic, and three other Central American countries in ratifying the Central America Free Trade Agreement,” calling the action “Nicaragua’s best opportunity to derive the benefits of trade and investment that will increase employment and bring prosperity to the Nicaraguan people.”

Costa Rica is the only country covered by the pact that has not yet ratified it.

Following are the statements by USTR and the State Department:

(begin text)

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
Executive Office of the President
Washington, D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2005

USTR Spokesperson Neena Moorjani Statement Regarding Nicaragua's Passage
of CAFTA-DR

"We congratulate the Nicaraguan government for passing the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.

"They now join El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and the United States in approving the CAFTA-DR.

"We have met with representatives of the CAFTA-DR governments recently and we are working towards a target date of January 1, 2006, for implementing this agreement.

"This agreement levels the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses, expands choices for consumers and strengthens democracies with our neighbors."

(end statement)

(begin statement)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
October 11, 2005

Statement by Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman

Nicaragua’s Passage of CAFTA-DR and Recent Political Developments

The United States is encouraged by the Nicaraguan General Assembly’s decision to join with the United States, the Dominican Republic, and three other Central American countries in ratifying the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). CAFTA-DR is Nicaragua’s best opportunity to derive the benefits of trade and investment that will increase employment and bring prosperity to the Nicaraguan people.

Political developments which have transpired since Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick visited Nicaragua last week are steps in the right direction. We welcome the October 10 announcement by President Enrique Bolaños of an agreement, facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS), that supports completion of his constitutionally mandated term and suspends January’s constitutional amendments which erode the Presidency and threaten the balance of power.

The United States has worked with the OAS and the broader international community to encourage a resolution of the political crisis that would ensure democratic governance. While we are encouraged by the steps taken this past weekend, we will continue to monitor developments carefully.

During his October 4-5 visit to Managua, Deputy Secretary Zoellick described the corrupt pact between Arnoldo Aleman and Daniel Ortega as a “creeping coup” undermining Nicaraguan democracy. U.S. assistance will continue to be predicated on maintaining democratic order and good governance. Any subsequent post-agreement steps to further weaken or remove the constitutionally elected president will result in loss of opportunities for Nicaragua, including Millennium Challenge Account funding and participation in CAFTA-DR.

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