On Second Thought, We Do
For a while now, Costa Rica has been more than a little hesitant to ratify its free trade agreement with the United States. Never mind that "DR-CAFTA" (the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement) has already been negotiated, passed by the U.S. Congress, and implemented with all the other countries, many Ticos (as they are pleasantly referred to in Spanish) have wanted to stay apart.
Truth be told, the votes have probably always been there in the San Jose Senado, but local DR-CAFTA supporters have been hesitant to directly take on anti-Yankee sentiment and public sector unions - particularly those aligned with the national telecommunications monopoly. Instead, the debate there has just bumbled along, with two separate missed deadlines, two high court reviews, and one national referendum. That is, until the U.S. election results focused minds. It was nice playing hard-to-get, but now that a new Administration and Congress spouting anti-free trade sentiments will be running things, San Jose seems to be cashing in while it's still possible.
Thus, the final implementations measures were approved on November 11 -- or was the timing just a coincidence? In any event -- aside from agriculture where Costa Rica is opening up while the U.S. market stays off limits - the country stands to benefit considerably from DR-CAFTA.
Beyond a liberalized telecom sector, cheaper access to high-quality U.S. electrical equipment exports, and free trade with its immediate neighbors, the truth of the matter is that it is one of the few countries in the vicinity which gringos feel they can visit safely - and no doubt at least a few investors will take time off from their eco-tourism to consider setting up shop.
11-17-2008 8:01 AM