WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

US Trade Policy and Agreements

US Trade Policies

In recent years the US government has negotiated the Dominican Republic Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) and is currently promoting trade agreements with Colombia and Peru.  WOLA approaches the trade debate from a human rights perspective, highlighting whether core rights such as the right to food, the rights to work and free choice of employment, the right to just and favorable remuneration, and the rights to form trade unions and freedom of association are respected.


The purported aim of DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement) is to liberalize U.S. and Central America markets, creating a free-trade zone similar to that created between the US, Mexico and Canada as a result of  the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


DR-CAFTA provisions eliminate tariffs on basic grains, such as rice, beans and corns both immediately and gradually depending on country and product specific agreements. As such, the agreement particularly affects the rural sector throughout Latin America where small farmers are unable to compete with subsidized agricultural imports from the U.S. This has very troubling implications for poverty and development in a region that is predominantly rural and agriculture based.

Signatories to DR-CAFTA include: the U.S., Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the only country that has not ratified the agreement. The delay in Costa Rica’s implementation has been attributed, in part, to significant ongoing opposition from sectors of civil society. In July 2007, the Constitutional Court of Costa Rica declared the agreement to be constitutional and decided on Oct 7 as the date of a public referendum on approval of the agreement. 


Country implementation occurred as follows: El Salvador, March 1, 2006; Guatemala, June 1, 2006; Honduras, April 1, 2006; Nicaragua, April 1, 2006; Dominican Republic, March 1, 2007.


Please see the publications section for further information on DR-CAFTA.