June 15, 2010 / 2:49 AM / 10 years ago

US lifts tariffs on sugar imports from Costa Rica

 SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, June 14 (Reuters) - Costa Rica
applauded a move by the United States on Monday to ease tariffs
on sugar imports from the Central American country, lifting the
last barrier to a regional free-trade deal.
 Costa Rica was the last country to join the Central America
Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, in January of 2009 but the
country's Congress dragged its feet implementing reforms
required by the agreement.
 The legislative delay prompted the U.S. government to
suspend Costa Rica's tariff-free sugar imports this January.
 Costa Rica's sugar industry, which usually exports between
130,000 and 140,000 tonnes of sugar a year, estimates the
losses from the U.S. suspension at up to $1 million.
 But in April this year, Costa Rica's Congress finally
approved the last reform needed to complete CAFTA by toughening
copyright laws to protect intellectual property rights, and the
U.S. responded on Monday by lifting the ban on sugar.
 "We're very glad to see this nightmare over," Edgar
Herrera, the head of the country's sugar chamber, told
Reuters.
 Now Costa Rica can sell up to 13,880 tonnes of sugar in the
United States without duties, according to the Costa Rican
Foreign Trade Ministry.
 CAFTA, which groups five Central American countries and the
Dominican Republic was signed in 2005 but popular opposition to
the deal in Costa Rica held up its passage in the country for
several years.
(Reporting by Alex Leff, Editing by Sandra Maler)


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