Includes tougher enforcement for piracy.

The House of Representatives passed the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) at 12:15 a.m. this morning, to the relief of the U.S. record industry and others in the copyright
sector.

Some of CAFTA's uncontroversial provisions include tougher enforcement penalties for piracy and counterfeiting. New policies to beef up member-nation customs and tax agencies which are intended to strike out against border corruption. These provisions will serve as templates for future U.S. trade pacts.

The agreement, passed by the Senate 54-45 on June 30, faced an uphill fight in the House. The White House contended that CAFTA will tear down barriers to trade and investment between the U.S. and El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Democratic opponents argued that CAFTA would further weaken agricultural worker rights in those countries. Earlier this week, President Bush also had to offer some Republican members straddling the fence assurances on protections for U.S. textile industries.

CAFTA still needs to be approved and implemented in several of the Central american countries before it goes into effect.