If free trade agreements progressed and an agreement was signed, this would provide the 34 participating countries with significant trade and investment opportunities. For the United States, a free trade agreement would support U.S. interest in deeper access to South American markets. The United States could also benefit from the fact that a free trade agreement could strengthen economic and political reforms in Latin America and help support other major U.S. goals, such as drug prohibition, improved environmental and working conditions, support for education reforms and strengthening democracy. (67) In the trade field, the united States` position was that the free trade agreement would be important if it went beyond what was achieved in the WTO, particularly in the areas of trade liberalization of services and investment; liberalisation of public procurement; Respect for intellectual property rights integration of work and environmental issues. (68) There are a number of agreements, including free trade agreements, customs union unions, common markets and economic unions. (1) Free trade agreements are the most common form of regional economic integration, in which members of a group of member states remove tariffs and certain non-tariff barriers between Member States. 2. At the same time, each member maintains its independent trade policy, including its tariffs, with respect to third countries. Free trade agreements are those in which Member States agree to remove tariffs and non-tariff barriers within the free trade area, but each country maintains its own trade policy, including tariffs on foreign trade. ATFs account for 84% of all RTAs in force worldwide, 96% of the remaining ATRs. The likely reason why there are more free trade agreements than customs unions is that they can be concluded more quickly and require less political coordination among members.
In a free trade agreement, Member States have their own trade policy vis-à-vis third countries. (3) The U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement is an example of a bilateral free trade agreement. On 5 August 2004, the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic signed the CAFTA-DR. The agreement was ratified by six countries and had an un reached implementation deadline of 1 January 2006. The Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala have experienced delays in prescribing the agreement`s commitments in their national laws, but are expected to do so in early 2006. Costa Rica has not ratified the agreement and can delay its ratification until after the presidential elections of 5 February 2006. (25) Although economic motivations can be an important driving force, countries form ATRs for a number of reasons. Political and security factors also play a role in the formation of ATRs. Countries generally enter into trade agreements to improve their country`s or region`s negotiating position in global negotiations, attract foreign direct investment, increase economic growth, achieve economies of scale and expand export markets.