Ending 4-year battle, Costa Rica approves CAFTA

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- Costa Rica is finally ready to join the Central American Free Trade Agreement after a four-year battle in the nation's congress.

Costa Rica signed the trade accord in 2004 along with the rest of Central America, the United States and the Dominican Republic.

But its official entry in CAFTA has been stalled by lawmakers. They overcame the final hurdle Tuesday by approving laws dealing with intellectual property.

Costa Rica's president has applauded the move. His office is working on the final paperwork now. The deal takes effect in Costa Rica on January 1st.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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