(Alexandria, VA) -- The House's passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) represents a victory not just for global commerce, but for overburdened taxpayers, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). Throughout the arduous Congressional debate over the pact, NTU deployed significant grassroots and financial resources toward CAFTA's ratification.
"When free trade agreements win adoption, taxpayers win new opportunities to prosper," said NTU President John Berthoud. "Tariffs are nothing more than taxes on the flow of goods and services across national boundaries, and CAFTA will help to reduce these burdens for citizens not only in the United States but in Central America and the Dominican Republic as well."
Berthoud noted that besides lowering tariffs, CAFTA will also deliver other economic benefits. For example, the licensing and permitting process for U.S. businesses wishing to trade with CAFTA countries would be streamlined. This would present a definite advantage for small American businesses - the source of most job creation -- since these firms are least able to cope with regulatory cost burdens.
According to Berthoud, NTU's effort on behalf of CAFTA "was one of our most active free-trade initiatives ever recorded in our 36-year history." Elements included:
- Several legislative alerts to NTU's 95,000 online subscribers, who in turn sent thousands of e-mails to lawmakers urging ratification of the treaty;
- NTU "CAFTA Facts" (transmitted daily to Members of Congress) that highlighted little-known advantages of the trade pact;
- A coalition letter to Congress from two dozen federal, state, and local taxpayer groups and think tanks noting that "defeat of CAFTA will be a great disappointment and a signal that protecting special interests is more important to this Congress than doing what is right for America;" and,
- A telephone bank in 11 key House Districts that provided a quick and easy way for thousands of concerned citizens to reach their Representatives and speak out for CAFTA in the days leading up to the vote.
"NAFTA, Fast Track Authority, and now CAFTA are just three of many steps that will be necessary to ensure that taxpayers around the world enjoy the fruits of free trade," Berthoud concluded. "Economic freedom will rise as more trade barriers fall."
NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. The group is part of the World Taxpayers Associations, which has 46 member-organizations from 40 countries on six continents. Note: Numerous studies, commentaries, and features on free trade are available online at www.ntu.org.