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SCOTT JAGOW: Today’s the anniversary of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.The U.S. and El Salvador signed it a year ago. Since then, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras have signed it. This morning, a check-up from Dan Grech at our Americas Desk at WLRN.
DAN GRECH: To free trade advocates, more trade is always a good thing.
From their perspective, CAFTA’s had a promising start. U.S. exports to the four Central American countries grew by more than 18 percent.
Meanwhile, imports from those countries into the U.S. were flat, mostly because of increased competition from China on textiles.
Free trade critic Sarah Anderson is with the Institute for Policy Studies. She says unlike many economists, she’s more concerned about what’s behind the numbers.
SARAH ANDERSON: We want trade to lead to high-paying jobs with decent working conditions. We want trade to contribute to stronger environmental protections and human rights protections. And so therein I think lies the real disconnect.
Anderson says CAFTA hurts small farmers and producers in Central America who can’t compete with U.S. companies. That in turn could lead to more immigrants streaming into the U.S.
I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.
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