I supported the passage of CAFTA. Free and fair trade is vital to economic growth and job stability. CAFTA will reduce trade barriers with the five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic that together compose America`s second-largest export market in the Western Hemisphere. For Texas, this could translate to thousands of new jobs and pump millions of dollars into the local economy.
For Texas, CAFTA-DR could translate to thousands of new jobs and pump millions of dollars into the local economy. In 2004, the countries of CAFTA-DR were the 12th-largest export destination for Texas. Several CAFTA-DR markets are multimillion- dollar trading partners for Texas. Last year, Guatemala alone received merchandise exports from Texas totaling $484 million and was the state's 32nd largest market.
CAFTA-DR will boost opportunities for Texas exporters throughout the region, providing new market access for the state's products. More than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Central America and the Dominican Republic will be duty-free immediately upon entry into force of the agreement, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years.
Key U.S. exports, such as information technology products, agricultural and construction equipment, paper products, chemicals, and medical and scientific equipment, will gain immediate duty-free access to Central America and the Dominican Republic.