President Bush signed a free-trade agreement with Central America, after a bitter fight with Congress over the direction of American trade policy.

Bush said at the signing ceremony for the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, that the agreement was "good for America" and will help strengthen U.S. ties with democracies in the region. The free-trade pact narrowly won passage in the House of Representatives last week after a final lobbying blitz by Bush and his top aides. It passed by 217-215.

The agreement eliminates more than $33 billion in tariffs on U.S. exports to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It also locks in and expands the duty-free access those countries already have to the U.S. market.