WASHINGTON – President Bush on Tuesday signed the Central America Free Trade Agreement. Following is a summary of what the act does, according to the Congressional Research Service:
— Approves the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States-Free Trade Agreement treaty entered into by the United States and governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
— Removes duties from goods traded between CAFTA-DR nations and the United States. Allows the secretary of the Treasury to exempt some goods according to a specified formula to provide safeguards for some products.
— Creates a trade schedule for textile and apparel goods.
— Permits actions to be brought against nations whose exports are believed to cause serious injury or threat to U.S. articles and industries.
— Designates CAFTA-DR countries as beneficiary countries under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act.
— Requires the president to submit reports to Congress on the implementation of the agreement.
— Demands meetings between Labor secretary and CAFTA-DR ministers on obligations and efforts to expand labor markets.
— Amends the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 to allow the U.S. government to import any products or services from nations party to the agreement.
— Provides for dispute settlement proceedings, arbitration of claims against the United States covered by the agreement and changes to tariff schedules.