San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Lawmakers Dismantle Insurance Monopoly

Costa Rica is one step closer to entering a free-trade agreement with the United States, after lawmakers voted this week to promote competition in the insurance market and better protect intellectual property.

The two measures will help Costa Rica implement the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), ratified by referendum in October.

On Tuesday, lawmakers voted in final debate to allow private national and foreign companies to join the National Insurance Institute (INS) in selling insurance here.

The next day, lawmakers also gave an initial thumbs-up to a measure that imposes stiff fines and prison sentences on violators of copyright, patent and trademark law.

The bill will become law once it is approved in a second debate and signed by President Oscar Arias.

Four bills must pass a second round of debate before Costa Rica can enter CAFTA. The deadline for joining the pact is Oct. 1.

–Gillian Gillers


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