Customs Alert - Senate Approves CAFTA
On June 30, 2005, the Senate approved the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) by a narrow 54-45 vote. The Bush administration seems to have put this vote through the Senate first, in the hopes of gaining some momentum for CAFTA which is expected to face stiff opposition when received by the House. Once the bill leaves the House Ways and Means Committee, the full House will have 15 legislative days to cast their votes. The House, now in recess, is expected to return on July 11. Thus far, main opposition to CAFTA has come from labor groups and the United States sugar industry.
CAFTA provides relief for imports benefiting from CAFTA. Since about eighty percent of CAFTA imports already enter the U.S. duty free under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, and other such programs, CAFTA should provide for U.S. products and services to receive the same kind of reciprocal access. CAFTA also provides for textile and apparel safeguarding measures, strengthened protections for intellectual property, recordkeeping requirements, as well as the retroactive application for certain liquidations and reliquidations of textile and apparel goods.