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April 10th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) The US Embassy in San José responded yesterday to a television interview broadcast by Russian global broadcaster, RT, on April 8th in which president-elect Luis Guillermo Solis criticized the Free Trade Agreement between Costa Rica and the United States, known as CAFTA.
In the 22-minute interview, Solis said he has been a long-time opponent of the agreement, which he said, “Has not provided Costa Rica any benefit.” Solis said he believed the agreement damaged the agricultural sector and other sectors of Costa Rica’s economy.
Solis also said that a “monogamous marriage” with the United States is not beneficial for foreign trade, adding that stronger ties between Russia and Central America could be “very helpful,” in terms of political dialogue and other areas.
Responding to a request from Inside Costa Rica, US Embassy public affairs official, Eric Turner disagreed, saying, “The benefits of CAFTA are clear.”
“The Embassy has consistently made the point that U.S./Costa Rican trade has continued to grow, despite the negative effects of the 2008 downtown. New markets for Costa Rican goods have been opened in the United States. In addition, CAFTA led directly to the deregulation of the telecommunication sector, which has brought profound benefits to Costa Rica, including significant direct foreign investment, jobs, improved service and customer choice for Costa Ricans, who can now run a small business through the latest smart phone where they used to wait in lines for outdated technology,” Turner said in a statement to Inside Costa Rica.
“A recent report by the World Bank found that – while some beneficial impacts of CAFTA have lagged because of the slow pace at which tariffs are being removed – CAFTA has, over its first five years, brought significant positive changes to Costa Rica and its economy,” Turner said, adding:
“The U.S. government is looking forward to working closely with the Solis administration in our areas of common interest, which include trade and economic ties, energy, citizen security and more. The United States is Costa Rica’s largest export market, but over recent years, Costa Rica has done a lot to expand its commercial ties with Europe and other markets and to further diversify its economy to mitigate the effect of shocks, like the 2008 recession.”
Solis’ interview was aired on RT on Tuesday, the same day Intel and Bank of America announced they were closing their Costa Rican operations.