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Home >> World
UPDATED: 14:01, March 01, 2006
Central American countries review free trade deal with US
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The Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua met Tuesday to discuss the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States.

Nicaraguan President Oscar Berger said after the meeting in Guatemala that they had congratulated El Salvador on implementing the CAFTA, which will come into force there Wednesday.

El Salvador's parliament has to examine the U.S. trade deal, while Guatemala is still waiting for U.S. confirmation of its requested conditions being met.

The U.S. Trade Representative Office has relaxed the waiting period for the treaty, Berger told reporters. Now countries that have met all the conditions during the first half of the month can begin operating under the terms of the deal at the start of the following month.

If everything goes smoothly, Guatemala could have a free trade deal operating as of April 1. The Parliaments of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have all approved the CAFTA.

Prime ministers of the Central American countries are to meet on March 9 in Panama as part of a meeting of the Central America Integration System (SICA).

Source: Xinhua

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