San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala Will Sign Free-Trade Pact with Chile

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) –Guatemala and Chile expect to sign abilateral free-trade agreement by nextweek at the latest, announced GuatemalanPresident Oscar Berger on Monday, followinga meeting with his Chilean colleagueRicardo Lagos.The announcement came despiteefforts by Guatemala, El SalvadorHonduras and Nicaragua – a CentralAmerican bloc known as the CA-4 – tonegotiate a regional trade pact with Chile.Costa Rica last year signed a bilateralfree-trade pact with Chile, and ElSalvador defected from the CA-4 severalweeks ago by announcing it too was inthe process of finalizing a bilateral pactwith the southern nation.Berger’s announcement took by surpriseseveral of Guatemala’s productivesectors, namely sugar producers, who areexpressing concerns the agreement willnot be to their advantage. Bergerannounced Chile agreed to increase itssugar import quota from Guatemala, butdid not say by how much.In 2003, Guatemala imported $92.8million of Chilean products, while Chileimported $9.2 million worth ofGuatemalan products, according to theGuatemalan Central Bank.

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