Washington, D.C.-The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the leading life insurance trade association in the U.S., today commended the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Commerce Department and other U.S. Government Trade Negotiators for finalizing agreement with Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua to form the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

"This was a difficult and complicated agreement and the U.S. government negotiators have worked tirelessly to get a critical mass of our priorities in the four markets that signed on," said Brad Smith ACLI's managing director for international relations.
CAFTA is one of several national and regional free trade agreements the Bush administration is currently negotiating to help build support for larger hemispheric and global trade agreements like the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and the World Trade Organization Doha Negotiations.

"ACLI supports the president and our negotiators, led by USTR Ambassador Robert B. Zeollick and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Don Evans, in their efforts to build a strong foundation, one agreement at a time," Smith said.

ACLI's objectives are to achieve market access, national treatment, and regulatory transparency in each market by a date certain and within a reasonable time frame. The CAFTA package proposed by the Administration reaches these goals, and includes new regulatory and administrative commitments for the four Central American nations that are not currently contained in their WTO commitments.

"While some of the commitments are not binding until their scheduled phase in, we are extremely pleased by the firm commitment from all parties that support our overarching objective of progressive liberalization," Smith added. "While it was regrettable that Costa Rica was not able to join the agreement at the end of the day, we fully support U.S. Negotiators in their commitment to making the CAFTA a high standards agreement."

The American Council of Life Insurers

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