U.S. President Barack Obama signed a proclamation that will reinstate preferential treatment for Costa Rican sugar, the White House said Monday. Its quota for the U.S. market was suspended because of Costa Rica’s foot-dragging in enacting reforms to implement a free-trade deal with the U.S., according to the statement.
Starting Tuesday, Costa Rica can export 13,880 metric tons of tariff-free sugar and sugar-containing goods a year to the U.S.
The block had gone into effect in January, causing an estimated $1 million in lost revenue for the country’s sugar sector, according to Edgar Herrera, executive director of the national sugar cane association, LAICA.
Herrera said LAICA represents the interests of more than 12,000 producers and 15 mills, and that sugar is a $200 million industry here.
Costa Rica joined the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with United States (CAFTA) in January 2009, after pushing through a dozen liberalizing reforms needed to join the trade club. But one controversial bill to toughen copyright reforms lingered, prompting the U.S. to block a key deal on sugar until Costa Rican legislators approved the law.
The lawmakers passed the reforms in April.
On Monday, sugar producers and trade officials celebrated their regained preferential treatment.
“We’re very satisfied with this result, which allows Costa Rica to sell 13,880 metric tons of sugar to the United States market, taking advantage of the benefits of the agreement,” said Anabel González, Costa Rica’s foreign trade minister.