Thursday, September 11, 2008

Costa Rica top court blocks US trade pact approval

Costa Rica's highest court deals blow to CAFTA trade pact approval

San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - Costa Rica's highest court on Thursday overturned an intellectual property law demanded by the U.S. prior to the enactment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The Constitutional Court ruled that lawmakers improperly passed the bill - which included provisions on biodiversity - without consulting Indian groups.

Costa Rica has until Oct. 1 to implement the CAFTA trade pact, which other Central American countries already have enacted.

The nation has already changed other laws to open its economy to more competition. Thursday's ruling dealt with the last remaining piece of such legislation.

The ruling was a victory for free-trade opponents who have tried to block the pact's approval with court appeals.

Legislator Mayi Antillon of the ruling National Liberation Party said it would be "practically impossible" for lawmakers to pass a revamped version of the bill in time to meet the deadline.

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