Friday, March 18, 2005

Chicken leg quarters and CAFTA's prospects

The reason CAFTA faces uncertain prospects of passage in the US Congress is that a wide variety of special interest groups have found one provision or another to upset them. If Congress does not pass CAFTA, it will not be out of a concern for poor campesinos in Central America, but because specific economic groups have applied pressure to stop the treaty.

Today in the farm press comes the news that the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has passed a resolution asking Congress not to ratify the treaty. The vote came despite the Bush administration sending its top trade representative to speak to the group. The agricultural commissioners believe that imports from Central America will threaten various sectors of the US farm economy.

The example a spokesman gave was chicken leg quarters:

"Take a look at poultry, for example,” he said. “Under the agreement, the tariff on chicken leg quarters will be eliminated in 17 years in Costa Rica and 18 years in the other Central American countries,” Odom said. “They get instant access to the United States, and we have to wait 17 to 18 years. Our farmers will all be bankrupt and out of business by then if this agreement passes."

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