San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica passes final bill needed for CAFTA

Costa Rica has cleared the last hurdle to joining the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

Lawmakers this week passed the last bill required to enter the treaty, which also includes Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

A Costa Rican delegation will meet with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., this month to finalize the pact.

In addition to knocking down trade barriers, the treaty will strengthen intellectual property rights and open the state telecommunications and insurance monopolies.

Costa Rica signed CAFTA in May 2004. Voters approved it in a referendum in October 2007. It has been delayed by filibustering by opposition lawmakers.

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