Hey - I’m not saying trade agreements w/ US benefit anyone more than they benefit the US. Belize is geographically Central America and politically Caribbean. CARICOM in actuality probably has little input into the negotiating process w/ US, and from what I’ve read Belize has not benefitted much from the US aid that has gone to the Caribbean. At a gathering earlier this year centering around CAFTA and its claimed benefits, governor Jeb Bush suggested Belize should “put themselves in a position to be able to attract the type of assistance and investment that they require to bring them in line with the other more developed countries.” I personally have no idea what the heck that means.
In California, there is a huge conflict brewing in the hispanic/latino community regarding CAFTA. I mean, let’s be honest about what CAFTA can and cannot do:
The proposal says that CAFTA will lower tariffs on US farm products, goods and services sold in Central America and make it easier for C.A. to export products to US. California alone stands to have its exports boosted by 17% and promises that 1,300 new jobs will be created w/in the first year after implementation.
But CAFTA is NOT going to enable Central Americans to buy US manufactured cars, or software, or prime beef. CAFTA will enable US companies to move plants to Honduras, outsource jobs to El Salvador and exploit cheap labor in Guatemala. US workers fear the loss of jobs, pensions, health care benefits; school districts lose revenue with every plant shutdown; the tax base is effected, small businesses can't compete with corporations using cheap labor to undercut the market. There’s the issue of exploiting poor Central American workers, not to mention major environmental concerns which have not been addressed. It’s clear that the legal protections for workers and the environment are not as strong as those for the products they will produce.
US has purchasing power and economic advantage that can’t be beat. This puts them in a position to help empower poor workers in developing countries while promoting prosperity at home. I loved a quote I read about CAFTA in the Washington Post: “When the world's poorest people can buy American products, not just make them, then we will know that our trade policies are finally working.”
Okay - that's my rant for the day