Dominican Republic joins CAFTA

Dominican Republic joins CAFTA

WASHINGTON -- The Dominican Republic is the sixth nation to join the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced Monday afternoon.

The Dominican Republic joins Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The proposed agreement, which Congress must approve, would allow the Dominican Republic to export a small amount sugar to the U.S., about .12 percent of current U.S. production. Under CAFTA, partner nations would be able to import a total amount of sugar equivalent to about 1.3 percent of U.S. production of sugar a year, rising to about 1.9 percent in 15 years.

The addition of the Dominican Republic to the pact represents an additional $8.7 billion for a total $32 billion in trade, according to the USTR.

"This is a proud day for the people of the Dominican Republic and the United States: with close ties and $9 billion in trade already, this Free Trade Agreement will help both countries to grow stronger together," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick.

Under the agreement, 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods would become duty-free in the Dominican Republic, and all tariffs would be phased out over 10 years.

Agricultural goods would be phased in more slowly: about half of U.S. agricultural exports to the Dominican Republic would be duty-free immediately. The rest would be phased in over the next 20 years.