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Statement by USTR Susan C. Schwab on Costa Rica

October 04, 2007

"The United States respects the sovereign right of the citizens of Costa Rica to choose whether to approve the free trade agreement with the United States, Central America, and the Dominican Republic.  But, I hope whatever decision is made is based on the facts.


“There has been speculation that the United States would simply renegotiate the terms of the current agreement or negotiate a new bilateral trade agreement with Costa Rica if our current agreement is rejected.  That is not the case.


“The agreement we reached with Costa Rica is a balanced agreement that is strongly in the national interests of both of our countries.  It was concluded only after lengthy and difficult negotiations involving five of Costa Rica’s neighbors, which already are enjoying the benefits of the agreement.  It is difficult to imagine any U.S. Administration renegotiating the current agreement or negotiating a new trade agreement with Costa Rica if this agreement is rejected.  The opportunity for Costa Rica to enjoy the benefits of regional free trade is now.


“There has also been considerable discussion about whether Costa Rica would continue to enjoy preferential access to the U.S. market under our trade preference programs if the agreement is rejected.  Certain benefits that the United States provides under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), including those benefiting Costa Rica’s textiles and tuna industries, are scheduled to expire next year.  The fact is, the United States has never faced a situation where one of our trading partners rejects a reciprocal trade agreement with the United States, but continues to seek unilateral trade preferences.”


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