San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Last CAFTA Bill Clears Constitutional Court

Costa Rica has cleared the last major hurdle to entering a free-trade agreement with the United States.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) has greenlighted the last bill required to put Costa Rica in compliance with the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA).

Sala IV ruled on Oct. 30 that the final bill, which deals with intellectual property rights, is constitutional. Lawmakers must now pass the bill in a second and final debate, and President Oscar Arias must sign it.

Costa Rica signed CAFTA in May 2004 and passed the treaty in a national referendum in October 2007. Since then, lawmakers have scrambled to approve 13 bills required to make Tico laws conform with the pact.

On Sept. 11, about three weeks before Costa Rica’s deadline for entering CAFTA, the Sala IV said the intellectual property bill was unconstitutional because lawmakers failed to consult the indigenous community on a clause that would affect them.

Lawmakers removed the clause and resubmitted the bill to the Sala IV. Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s trading partners extended the deadline to Jan. 1.

–Gillian Gillers


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