San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Last CAFTA bill goes fast track in Costa Rica

Lawmakers applied a fast-track procedure yesterday to the last bill required to implement the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

After days of intense negotiations with Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias, five lawmakers from the Libertarian Movement Party agreed to fast-track the bill, which protects intellectual property rights and punishes violations. Arias convinced the Libertarians by agreeing to reduce prison terms for violators and increase the number of lawmakers able to vote on a certain clause.

The Libertarians, together with lawmakers from the government’s National Liberation Party, the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) and independent legislators, completed the 38 votes required to apply the fast-track process, which can limit debate to less than a month. Bills can otherwise take years to pass.

Costa Rica has until October to enter the free-trade pact. To do that, the country must pass five more bills that would open up the insurance market, regulate the telecommunications market and strengthen intellectual property rights, among other things.

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