Costa Rica backs free trade with US | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2007

Costa Rica backs free trade with US

Costa Rica has backed a free trade agreement with the United States, with voters overcoming deep reservations to hand a narrow referendum victory Sunday to President Oscar Arias on the issue.
"The people of Costa Rica have said yes to the free trade agreement, and that for me is a sacred wish," Arias said in a televised address to the nation after Costa Ricans voted in their tens of thousands on the measure.
"They have given me a mandate and as a committed democrat I will obey it," he added.
Turnout was 60 percent -- far above the 40 percent threshold needed for the result to be binding and the deal automatically ratified.
The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been ratified by several other countries in the region, but faced widespread opposition in Costa Rica, where Arias was forced to call a referendum after three years of debate.
"The FTA is not what divides us," he said in his address after polling. "What divides us is the poverty in which 90,000 Costa Ricans live, the lack of jobs for the young, the violence that sows distrust in all our communities."

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