ROSSLYN, Va., July 28, 2005-The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) heartily welcomed the House of Representatives' approval of legislation to implement the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). Last night's 217-215 House passage of the deal, combined with the Senate's earlier 54-45 ratification on June 30, puts the legislation on track to the president's desk for signature.
DR-CAFTA is a favorable deal for the electrical sector, zeroing out foreign tariffs on electrical equipment within the association's product scope. Most of these duties would be eliminated immediately, with others phased out over 5 or 10 years. The agreement could take effect as soon as January 1, 2006.
Since the six signatory countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic - already enjoy duty-free U.S. market access for electrical goods, the agreement levels the playing field for NEMA member companies. DR-CAFTA also promises to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade and strengthen multinational efforts to eliminate counterfeit products.
"We are delighted to see DR-CAFTA approved by the Hill," said NEMA President Malcolm O'Hagan. "We and our member companies lobbied long and hard on behalf of this agreement, and we very much thank the many House members who chose to make politically tough, but correct votes on behalf of economic growth in the U.S. and the region."
NEMA staff made well over 100 visits to House offices in 2005 to encourage DR-CAFTA ratification. Many NEMA member companies also contacted their representatives directly to urge them to vote in favor of the free trade measure.
"This FTA is more important to our members than it might at first appear," said O'Hagan. "These countries, while physically small, are surprisingly important trading partners and export markets. The Dominican Republic is our members' third largest Latin American export market and trading partner after Mexico and Brazil. And the five Central American countries combined represent the U.S. electroindustry's number two Latin American export market."
NEMA is the leading trade association in the United States representing the interests of electroindustry manufacturers, whose worldwide sales of electrical products exceed $120 billion. Founded in 1926 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., its 400 member companies manufacture products used in the generation, transmission and distribution, control, and end-use of electricity. These products are used in utility, industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential installations
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