Free-Trade Negotiations Reach Rocky Mountain State

March 11, 2005

DENVER, Colorado (EFE) –Ambassadors to the United States fromthree Central American countries and theDominican Republic met with local officialsand a group of business executivesin Denver, Colorado, to promote economicintegration agreements between theregions.Tomás Dueñas (Costa Rica), JoséGuillermo Castillo Villacorta(Guatemala), Salvador E. Stadthagen(Nicaragua) and Flavio Dario Espinal(Dominican Republic) met with ColoradoGov. Bill Owens and Denver Mayor JohnHickenlooper Feb. 25.Other Central American diplomats andtrade negotiators, including José CarlosQuirce, Costa Rica’s special envoy to theUnited States for negotiations related tothe Central American Free-TradeAgreement with the United States(CAFTA), also attended the meetings.“It was very important for the governor(Owens) to meet with this group,”spokesman Dan Hopkins said. “Theyspoke about economic development, internationalrelations and international trade.”In the afternoon, the ambassadors andother diplomats participated in a seminarabout CAFTA designed for Coloradobusiness leaders, organized in conjunctionwith the Chamber of the Americas and theU.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.Dueñas said Colorado is “an idealplace for international commerce,” particularlyin the areas of agriculture and services,and urged the approval of CAFTA.Quirce spoke about the businessopportunities CAFTA represents for theRocky Mountain region. Area legal firmHolland & Hart offered workshopsregarding the legal and environmentalaspects of the treaty.Not everyone in attendance favoredthe trade pact.“As in the case of the pact betweenMexico, the United States and Canada,known as NAFTA, the CAFTA agreementwill only benefit big businesses on bothsides of the border,” said Gabriela Flores,spokeswoman of the Regional VoicesProject of the American Friends ServiceCommittee (AFSC).

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