Economic perspectives for Central America after CAFTA; a GTAP-based analysis
Using a GTAP CGE application, we assess the main economic results of CAFTA for Central America (CA). Currently, Central America enjoys preferential access to the US market through the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). CAFTA will consolidate and augment these concessions. Meanwhile, the agreement requires widespread opening of CA markets to US imports over time. The implementation of the ATC protocol in 2005 implies increased Chinese competition for the region in the textile and apparel sectors. CAFTA will balance for this new source of competition by allowing better access for CA textiles and apparel products, while creating large opportunities for labour market improvements and FDI inflows to Central America. If these opportunities are exploited, the region has much to gain from CAFTA. However, we also find a strong sectoral readjustment from agricultural sectors to maquila-based industries, which could create important adjustment strains.
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