Late polls suggested that Costa Rica’s voters would reject the ratification vote to join the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but what do you know? The polls were wrong. With a 51.6 percent yes vote, Costa Ricans embraced the mutual opportunity represented by CAFTA.
Costa Rica has the largest economy of the nations included in CAFTA (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, plus the Dominican Republic), and U.S. exports in 2005 totaled $3.5 billion to Costa Rica. As this USTR fact sheet states, Costa Rica’s accession to CAFTA “will streamline trade, promote investment, slash tariffs on goods, open trade in services, protect advanced intellectual property, and strengthen labor and environmental conditions.”
The vote is particularly welcome as a repudiation of the U.S. politicians who denigrated the U.S. interest in treating the Costa Ricans as full trading partners. Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist, spent a lot of energy telling the Costa Ricans the United States was out to exploit them and that CAFTA was a bad deal. The vote shows a confident nation telling political meddlers to take a hike.
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