The U.S. wants to implement the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that includes the U.S. and the Dominican Republic just as soon as possible, with an announcement possibly coming before the end of this year.
Costa Rica has yet to ratify the agreement. But the six other signatories to the pact -- the U.S., the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua -- have ratified it and are at various stages in the process of putting new laws and regulations into place.
The U.S. is ready for the agreement to take effect "as early as Jan. 1," says a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, "but only with countries that have made sufficient progress in adopting new laws and regulations where necessary." The U.S. "will move forward as long as at last one country is prepared, and will accommodate new entrants as they become ready," the spokesperson says.
Separately, the U.S. expects to implement its free-trade agreement with Morocco on Jan. 1, 2006.