Friday, May 11, 2007

45% of Costa Ricans in favour of CAFTA

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - The number of people in Costa Rica who support signing a commerce agreement with the United States and other neighbouring nations is bigger than those who oppose it.

According to a poll by CID-Gallup 45 percent of respondents say they will vote in favour of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in a referendum, while 32 percent would vote against the deal and 10 percent are still undecided.

In May 2004, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua agreed to the CAFTA with the United States. The Dominican Republic followed suit in August. The agreement—which would reduce or eliminate taxes and tariffs on imports—must be approved by each country’s legislative branch.

To date, Costa Rica remains the only country that has not ratified CAFTA. Former Costa Rican president Abel Pacheco postponed debate on the trade deal, hoping that the Legislative Assembly would approve a series of bills related to the country’s fiscal system.

Oscar Arias—a member of the National Liberation Party (PLN)—won the February 2006 presidential election with 40.92 per cent of all cast ballots. Arias supports the CAFTA and expects to have it ratified by the end of 2007.

On Apr. 13, Arias announced that Costa Ricans would be asked in a referendum whether they want the country to ratify the CAFTA or not. The president declared: "For the first time, Costa Ricans will be able to directly decide the future of a very important law for the country."

No date has been set for the nationwide vote, but it is expected to take place within the next three months.

Source: CID-Gallup
Methodology: Interviews with 1,200 Costa Rican adults, conducted from Apr. 16 to Apr. 23, 2007. Margin of error is 2.8 percent.

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