Thursday, July 28, 2005



North and Central America vs. The World

I really wasn't following the debate on CAFTA much until I took a trip to Nicaragua in February. Many of the locals expressed optimism at the re-election of President Bush because of his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement. They loathed John Kerry. So it was with great interest last night that I stayed up until midnight to watch the House vote on this important bill. It passed 217 to 215.

There are so many reasons why CAFTA is important. First and foremost is that is unites the economic interests of the whole of North and Central America. Any observer of the dangerous drift to the far left of Venezuela (Chavez= the Lil' Castro), or the more benign leftishness of Lula in Brazil knows that we had a choice, we could pull in our neighbors in Central America, embrace them as partners, or surrender them to the influence of Venezuela and perhaps China.

Central America will be a great area of low cost (by U.S. standards) labor to help American firms compete with the Chinese, especially in textiles. While textile assembly jobs here may wane, central America buys most of its fabric form US looms, where as China does not. So some good trade offs for a dying industry. More over, it provides investment incentives and protections for those wishing to build factories or start business in C.A. This will help create jobs, at decent wages (by local standards) across the isthmus.

Of course the deal could have been better, especially by using it to kill the horrendous U.S. sugar and cotton subsidies, but I guess that fight is for another day. For now, we've reached beyond our borders to build a better hemisphere. Anyway, credit where credit is due...CAFTA is a good thing.

CAFTA wins vote in House,1,3292860.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

CAFTA's Promise
(Great article on benefits to CA from prediction...Central America becomes the preferred retirement destination for Americans)...

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