US President George Bush has urged the US Congress to give its go-ahead to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Bush said that it was necessary to eradicate obstacles stopping free international trade, in order to allow US businesses access to new markets.

Bush said: "To create jobs and to strengthen democracy in our hemisphere, the Congress needs to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement."

Democrat politicians have accused the President of not doing enough to drive backing for CAFTA, which has been opposed by some textiles groups as they are concerned it will affect jobs.

The US House of Representatives may soon be ready to vote on the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement, according to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Although Hastert did not set an exact deadline, he said that he wanted the House to move "as quickly as possible".

Supporters have said that they are close to achieving the 218 votes they need for approval in the House of Representatives, but that they need more backing to pass the bill.

Over 45 US textile, apparel, and footwear executives sent a letter to the Administration and Congress asking for swift passage and implementation CAFTA, arguing that the current temporary, one-way trade preference scheme is not equipped to withstand the pressures of international competition in a quota free world.