Costa Rica granted extension to join CAFTA-DR
The United States and the five Central American countries have agreed to give Costa Rica an extension to approve its ratification of the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic free trade agreement.
Costa Rica, along with the United States, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, signed the free trade agreement on Aug. 5, 2004. The country approved CAFTA-DR in a national referendum in October 2007. Since then, Costa Rica has sought to adopt the measures required to carry out its obligations under the CAFTA-DR.
'While it has made considerable progress, the Costa Rican government needs more time to adopt necessary implementing legislation before the CAFTA-DR can enter into force in Costa Rica,' said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab in an Oct. 1 statement.
The agreement among the CAFTA-DR country members gives Costa Rica until Jan. 1 to complete its implementing process.
CAFTA-DR establishes a two-year period for signatory countries to join the agreement after it first takes effect. A country may join after the two-year deadline, but only if the countries that have already joined agree. CAFTA-DR first took effect on March 1, 2006. The first two-year period closed on March 1, 2008. In February, however, the six current CAFTA-DR countries agreed to extend this period until Oct. 1, and again until Jan. 1 to accommodate Costa Rica.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said trade has increased since CAFTA-DR took effect. The total trade volume between the United States and its current CAFTA-DR partners increased 16.7 percent in 2007 compared to 2005, or from $27.9 billion to $32.6 billion. From January to July 2008, U.S. two-way trade with these countries reached $21 billion, an increase of 14 percent over the corresponding period in 2007.