Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) treaty is due for Congressional ratification in the House soon after July 11, 2005

The Central American Free Trade Agreement (known as CAFTA) is a trade agreement between the United States and five Central American nations (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua) that was negotiated by the U.S. President and must be ratified by the U.S. House and Senate. CAFTA is viewed by many to be a precursor to the signing of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). While the purpose of these trade agreements is to promote free trade among Western Hemisphere countries, many point out special interest influences that could have serious negative impact on many populations and on personal rights. Also, there are countries in Central and South American that could use the SPS and TBT provisions in these agreements to pressure or force the U.S. to harmonize with the Codex Guidelines.

Many want a quick explanation of the trail connecting CAFTA with the Codex Guidelines.

1) When a country joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) it agrees to abide by the SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures) and TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreements.

2) The WTO designated the organization Codex Alimentarius to create international trade standards for food. Vitamin and mineral supplements were designated as food. Codex finalized the Guidelines for Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements.

3) The WTO offers a Dispute Settlement Process to settle trade disputes between countries. The WTO uses economic sanctions to pressure the losing country to “harmonize” its law with international trade standards.

4) Chapters 6 and 7 of the CAFTA directly link this treaty with the two key agreements that give power to the WTO — SPS and TBT Agreements. Further, chapter 6 specifically mentions Codex. Therefore, CAFTA strengthens the power of another country to use the WTO’s mechanism to force the U.S. to “harmonize” U.S. law with international trade standards. For vitamin and mineral supplements this would mean weakening the U.S. DSHEA law to match the more restrictive Codex Guidelines.

The CAFTA treaty passed in the Senate June 30 and in the House July 28. House vote was 217 to 215. Potential negative impact on U.S. DSHEA law is expected to take several years to develop.

Numerous articles have been published about CAFTA:

Overview in NHF press release
CAFTA Vote – 1 Week Away:
We Must Not Allow CAFTA and Codex to Override DSHEA

Washington Post
CAFTA in Peril on Capitol Hill

Public Citizen
On One-Year Anniversary of CAFTA Signing, Public and Congressional Opposition to This NAFTA Expansion Grows

International Advocates for Health Freedom
IAHF Goes to Washington to Kill CAFTA/FTAA and to Guard Against Codex

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This Codex section was restructured in June 2005. This specific page was last updated September 2014.

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