Costa Rica Backs US Trade Deal by Slim Margin

Costa Rican president claims victory for CAFTA vote
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2007 6:37 AM CDT
A Costa Rica woman with her children casts her ballot at a polling station in the national referendum on a free trade agreement with the United States in San Jose, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007. Costa Rican's...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Costa Rican voters narrowly approved a free-trade pact with the US last night, despite polls predicting they would quash it, the AP reports. With nearly 89%  of precincts counted, 52% favored the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias declared victory. Costa Rica is the last of the six signers to have ratified the treaty.

After a heated campaign over whether opening Costa Rican markets would bring economic development or exacerbate poverty, opponents refused to acknowledge defeat until a  recount is performed. The White House,  which waged a bruising battle to get the pact through Congress, warned that they would not renegotiate if turned down, and threatened not to renew existing trade preferences that expire next September.