17 April News Brief Central America/Caribbean

Lucía Vega

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica – Costa Rica makes progress on FTA with China: Costa Rica and China have reached the first agreements for establishing a free trade agreement. Agriculture Minister Javier Flores announced that agreement was reached on 90 percent of products which will be free of taxes during the second of five rounds of negotiations in Shanghai. The Costa Rican delegation considered China’s initial offer to be “very good”, but is seeking to convince them to include a safeguard clause which allows them to levy customs duties on Chinese products which threaten Costa Rican production. According to the minister, negotiations will conclude before the end of the year and the FTA could be signed in January 2010.

[Ansa, La Nación]

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Clinton offers help: In a visit to the Dominican Republic, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, offered her support to President Leonel Fernández to avoid the country becoming consolidated as a stopover point for drugs being smuggled from South America to the United States and Europe. Clinton, who was in Haiti prior to her visit, expressed interest in contributing funds to improve the abilities of civil security institutions to confront organised crime. Clinton also offered consultations for the creation of a joint investment project with Haiti for the tourism sector to drive development of both countries.

[El Día, Listín Diario, El Nuevo Diario]

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua gives diplomatic protection to exiled former Thai prime minister: The Nicaraguan government has reported that it gave a diplomatic passport to the exiled former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, who is fleeing law enforcement authorities in his home country. President Daniel Ortega named him “Special Envoy Ambassador,” to help “bring investment to our country,” announced government spokeswomen and first lady of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo. It is believed that Shinawatra was able to use this Nicaraguan passport to travel to several Asian countries, since the Thai government cancelled his documents and issued an arrest warrant. He is facing a two-year prison sentence for corruption. Shinawatra governed Thailand from 2001 to 2006 and was removed from power through a coup.

[La Prensa, El Nuevo Diario]

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