Implementation of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), slated to begin January 1, has been pushed back until February or March, a spokesman for the U.S. trade representative's office said Dec. 30.
The accord, which has yet to be ratified by Costa Rica's legislature, would take effect in some countries starting February 1, while in other countries it would be implemented beginning March 1, spokesman Steve Norton said. "January 1st was just a target date," he said. "We want to do it as quickly as possible and as soon as possible, but we have to do it the right way."
President George W. Bush's administration touted CAFTA as an economic gain for the U.S. and a foothold for free-market capitalism in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Backers also argued that the trade measure was a way to fend off the threat of Chinese textile exports by spurring further integration of U.S. yarn and textile producers with low-cost garment makers in the Central American and Caribbean nations.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006