Letter to House Ways and Means Urging DR-CAFTA
June 14, 2005
The Honorable William M. Thomas
Committee on Ways and Means
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
The House Ways and Means committee is scheduled to consider voting out of committee
draft legislation to implement the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade
Agreement (DR-CAFTA). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the world's largest business
federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region —
strongly supports this landmark agreement, which will bring tangible commercial benefits to
American workers, farmers, and companies.
DR-CAFTA will create the largest new FTA market in over a decade. Americans already
export more than $15.7 billion each year in U.S. products to Central America and the Dominica
Republic — more than we sell to India, Indonesia, and Russia combined.
Best of all, this agreement will provide a level playing field for American workers and
farmers, ensuring that we get the full benefit of trade with this dynamic market. More than 20
years ago, the United States unilaterally opened its market to these six countries, and nearly
everything we import from them enters our market duty free. On the other hand, when American
workers and farmers sell their goods to Central America, we face average tariffs in the 7-11%
range (and up).
DR-CAFTA will correct this unfair trade imbalance by eliminating tariffs on 80% of U.S.
manufactured goods and 50% of U.S. agricultural exports immediately while phasing out most
remaining tariffs over a few years. In fact, a Chamber study covering 15 states found that DRCAFTA will create 25,000 new jobs and $4 billion in new sales in its first year.
But the case for DR-CAFTA goes beyond business — and beyond trade. The last time
Central America loomed on the agenda in Washington was during the civil wars of the 1980s.
Today, these are democracies and free market economies. Passing DR-CAFTA will help CentralAmerica build on the progress of the past 20 years.
Those who oppose the agreement have tried to sidetrack the debate away from the facts.
The passage of DR-CAFTA means only good things for the American economy and the
American worker. We urge you to pass the agreement as negotiated and oppose any
amendments that would undermine or nullify provisions of the agreement as it was negotiated
under Trade Promotion Authority requirements.
R. Bruce Josten