DR-CAFTA is the acronym for the free trade agreement between the United States, five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. But when it becomes effective on Wednesday, March 1, it will only apply to trade between El Salvador and the United States. As the International Herald Tribune reports:
Two months after the Central American Free Trade Agreement was supposed to go into effect, only El Salvador is ready to join, frustrating Washington after a hard-won victory in its push toward free trade.
Of the five other countries that agreed to participate, four have yet to change a host of laws to bring them into line with the agreement, which requires them to open up their economies to American trade and investment, dismantle protections for many local industries and enforce intellectual-property rights. The fifth country, Costa Rica, has yet to ratify the agreement.
President Tony Saca has pointed to El Salvador's status as the first to fully implement CAFTA as a symbol of his government's closeness with the Bush administration. The free trade agreement and the extension of TPS for undocumented Salvadorans living in the US have been focal points of Saca's campaign speeches for ARENA candidates since he returned from a meeting with Bush last Friday.
Protesters took to the streets in San Salvador again today to protest the implementation of CAFTA.