Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Is Free Trade With the US Right for Central America?

Ronald Reagan's death forced many people to confront once again the legacy of Central America's brutal wars in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua of two decades ago. That the region's bloody history is truly behind it seems to have been confirmed by the recent signing of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States.

The symbolism of that treaty promises much, not least the idea that civil wars and US interventions may be things of the past. But the details of the treaty offer little comfort to a region that is still recovering from the economic devastation wrought by those wars.

Paramount to CAFTA is a concern about the extent to which Central American countries will liberalize their economies. But more critical is whether the agreement will make for healthier economies. Although CAFTA represents an important opportunity in the region's quest to expand its access to the US market, it is unclear whether the new rules will strengthen or weaken Central American producers.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. solana114_FADEL SENNAAFP via Getty Images_libyaprotestflag Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

    Relieving Libya’s Agony

    Javier Solana

    The credibility of all external actors in the Libyan conflict is now at stake. The main domestic players will lower their maximalist pretensions only when their foreign supporters do the same, ending hypocrisy once and for all and making a sincere effort to find room for consensus.


Edit Newsletter Preferences