Economy - Bush toughens up on Central America

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Thursday, August 4, 2005

In a speech in Texas on Wednesday, President George W. Bush discussed the trade deficit, saying:

"We had a problem in our hemisphere about trade. I don't know if you realize it or not, but most of the goods from Central America came into this country duty-free. Yet eighty percent of our goods were taxed through tariffs in Central American countries. That didn't seem to make sense to me; it certainly wasn't fair. All I say to people is you treat us the way we treat you. If your goods can come into our markets duty-free, our goods ought to be able to go into your markets duty-free."

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis International Economic Accounts Balance of Payments,

"The deficit on goods increased to $186.3 billion from $182.2 billion, as goods imports increased more than exports. More than half the increase in imports was in consumer goods. Much of the increase in exports was in industrial supplies and materials, in consumer goods, and in capital goods."

In the US, the DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or simply CAFTA) bill passed by two votes. At present in contention is the Andean Free Trade Agreement.

"The House passed H.R. 304, to implement the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement [CAFTA], by a recorded vote of 217 ayes to 215 noes, Roll No. 443."

The bill passed by a slight majority in both the House and Senate.

President Bush met for lunch with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at the Bush Ranch in Texas and communicated his desire for the future prosperity of a Colombia free of drug trafficking and violence.

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