This past Tuesday, President Bush signed into law the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), but only after a rather protracted period of difficult and contentious debate in Congress. After signing the bill, Bush remarked that the agreement would defend against “forces that oppose democracy, seek to limit economic freedom and want to drive a wedge between the United States and the rest of the Americas." Essentially, CAFTA eliminates a number of tariffs and opens up the region to goods and services originating in the United States. A number of critics emerged during the process of approving CAFTA, including those in organized labor and other industries, many of whom claimed that the agreement would result in fewer jobs in the sugar and textile industries. As CAFTA only squeaked by in the House during the approval process, a number of commentators have suggested that this does not bode well for other free trade agreements with Thailand and Bahrain that have been under development as of late.The first link leads to a Los Angeles Times piece that provides coverage of the recent passage of CAFTA into law. The second link leads to an online article from this Wednesday’s San Francisco Chronicle about CAFTA, along with some informed commentary from Jon Haverman, a research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California. The third link will lead visitors to a helpful news article from the Detroit News which discusses the potential effects that the passage of CAFTA may have on various labor groups. The fourth link leads to a Financial Times article (requiring a free trial subscription) that looks at the broader transformation of organized labor, with specific reference to CAFTA. The fifth link leads to a very helpful page maintained by the International Trade Administration within the US Department of Commerce where users can read official factsheets and press releases about CAFTA. The sixth and final link leads to a statement issued by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on the passage of CAFTA by the House of Representatives.


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