USTR SEEKS COMMENTS ON CENTRAL AMERICA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
The Office of the United States Trade Representative is seeking industry comments on a proposed United States/Central America Free Trade Agreement.
On Oct. 1, after consulting with Congress, the U.S. Trade Representative said that the President intends to initiate free trade agreement negotiations with the five member countries of the Central American Economic Integration System (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua) and identified specific objectives for the negotiations.
The U.S. Trade Representative said that comments are sought on issues such as:
(a) General and commodity-specific negotiating objectives for the proposed agreement;
(b) Economic costs and benefits to U.S. producers and consumers of removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to U.S.-Central American trade;
(c) Treatment of specific goods (described by Harmonized System tariff numbers) under the proposed agreement, including comments on product-specific import or export interests or barriers, experience with particular measures that should be addressed in the negotiations, and in the case of articles for which immediate elimination of tariffs is not appropriate, a recommended staging schedule for such elimination;
(d) Adequacy of existing customs measures to ensure Central American origin of imported goods, and appropriate rules of origin for goods entering the United States under the proposed agreement;
(e) Existing Central American sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade;
(f) Existing barriers to trade in services between the United States and Central America that should be addressed in the negotiations.
The interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee will convene a public hearing and seek public comment to assist the U.S. Trade Representative in amplifying and clarifying negotiating objectives for the proposed agreement and to provide advice on how specific goods and services and other matters should be treated under the proposed agreement.
Under section 2104 of the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002, the President must provide Congress with at least 90 days’ written notice of his intent to enter into negotiations and must identify the specific objectives for the negotiations. The President must also seek the advice of the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding the probable economic effects on U.S. industries and consumers of the removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers on imports pursuant to any proposed agreement.