March 18, 2004
News Release 04-024
Inv. No. TA-2104-13


The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has instituted an investigation to assess the comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) that the President has proposed to establish with five Central American countries -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua -- and with the Dominican Republic.

The investigation, U.S. Free Trade Agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic: Potential Economywide and Selected Sectoral Effects, was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative in a letter received on January 28, 2004.

The Trade Act of 2002 granted the President authority to negotiate trade agreements that can only be approved or disapproved (but not amended) by the U.S. Congress. The law requires the ITC to prepare a report that assesses the likely impact of proposed FTAs on the U.S. economy as a whole and on specific industry sectors and the interests of U.S. consumers. The ITC's report, which will be public, is due to the President and the Congress no more than 90 days after the President actually signs the agreement, which he can do 90 days after he notifies the Congress of his intent to do so. The President notified the Congress on February 20, 2004, of his intent to enter into the FTA with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In that letter, the President also stated that negotiations were underway to integrate the Dominican Republic into the FTA with Central America.

The ITC will hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation on April 27, 2004. Requests to appear at the hearing (one original and 14 copies) should be filed no later than 5:15 p.m. on April 13, 2004, with the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. For further information, call 202-205-1816.

The ITC also welcomes written submissions for the record. Written submissions (one original and 14 copies) should be addressed to the Secretary of the Commission at the above address and should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on May 4, 2004. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

Further information on the scope of the investigation and appropriate submissions is available in the ITC's notice of investigation, dated March 17, 2004, which can be obtained from the ITC Internet site ( or by contacting the Office of the Secretary at the above address or at 202-205-1816.

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