U.S. and Panama negotiators used the CAFTA-DR framework to advance an agreement. The negotiation process progressed fairly quickly in the initial phase, but no significant progress has been made since February 2005. Discussions may resume in the fall of 2005. President Bush visited Panama on November 7, 2005 and met with Panamanian President Martin Torrijos. The two heads of state and government held a joint press conference, where they reviewed progress towards a free trade agreement, while acknowledging the political stakes associated with trade negotiations. (33) With regard to the rights and obligations arising from agreements of regional and partial scope, the situation of the denouncing Member State is adapting to the specific rules that may have been defined in each agreement. In the absence of these provisions, the general provision in the preceding paragraph of this section applies. U.S. companies, for example, sell more than $25 billion worth of products annually in Latin America and the Caribbean, making it one of the largest export markets in the United States. By removing virtually all tariffs and other trade barriers, the CAFTA-DR agreement further facilitates trade with these countries and opens up opportunities for a number of sectors. At the same time, it enriches the CAFTA-DR countries and increases the purchasing power of their citizens.
Since the 1990s, Latin American and Caribbean countries have focused on U.S. trade policy, as evidenced by the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, and, more recently, the Central Republic-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The Bush administration made trade agreements important elements of U.S. trade policy. The United States is in the process of concluding trade negotiations with Andean countries for a free trade agreement (FTA) and the reactivation of talks on a free trade agreement between the United States and Panama and a U.S. Free Trade Area (FTA). EstV Aista is an ongoing regional trade initiative that was first discussed in 1994 and officially launched in 1998. The last meeting of FTA trade ministers was held in Miami in November 2003, but discussions are currently stalled. The U.S. efforts for regional trade integration in the United States are important to Congress, as U.S. membership in a free trade agreement can only take place with legislative approval from Congress. American proponents of trade integration in America believe it helps the economic and political interests of the United States in many ways.
Supporters believe that the U.S. trade integration movement is beneficial to the prosperity of the United States and also serves to strengthen democratic regimes and support the United States.
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