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CAFTA Barely Passes, May Presage Future Controversy

Almost 80% of exports from the Central American countries that make up CAFTA – Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic -- already enters the U.S. duty-free. With the signing, the nations of CAFTA now represent the second-largest U.S. export market – behind only Mexico – in all of Latin America. It buys some $15 billion in U.S. exports, with two-way trade estimated at $32 billion.

Among other powerful groups in opposition to CAFTA were environmentalists who fear destruction of fragile and sensitive ecologies, organized labor fearing loss of jobs and the U.S. sugar lobby fearing competition from lower cost Latin American producers.

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