Costa Rica and CAFTA: Policy, Politics and Strategy of a New Era in Costa Rican Trade.

Date & time

Nov 10, 2008, 4:00-5:30 pm EST


Weill Hall

Alberto Trejos, the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, will focus his presentation on the evolution of Costa Rica's decision to join the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). In addition to addressing the implications of a Costa Rica-United States free trade agreement, Dr. Trejos will share his insight on how political strategy and drama influenced Costa Rica's adoption into CAFTA, which followed a national referendum. Tracing the decisions that a country like Costa Rica undertakes in joining a free trade agreement with the United States, Dr. Trejos will lead listeners through a series of critical questions, including: Why is trade such an important part of the Costa Rican development strategy, and what impact has such a strategy had on Costa Rica? How did the Costa Rica-United States free trade concept originate, and how was the agreement structured? What delicate issues and sensitive topics were addressed as the agreement came to fruition, and what position did the Costa Rican government take on those issues? How did the country's leaders prepare themselves-and the country-for the trade negotiations? How did negotiations conclude? What was the U.S. reaction to the successful negotiations? What political factors lead to a Costa Rican referendum on CAFTA? What misconceptions exist concerning the evolution of the Costa Rica-United States free trade agreement? Dr. Trejos is a professor of economics at INCAE, Latin America's top-ranked business school, where he also has served as Dean and as General Director of the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development. Dr. Trejos served on the board of Costa Rica's National Council for Financial Supervision and co-authored the first comprehensive reform of Costa Rica's pension (social security) system in half a century. From 2002-2004, he served as Costa Rica's Minister of Foreign Trade. During his term, he led the negotiation of CAFTA, the entry of his country into the Central American Customs Union, the congressional ratification of a free-trade agreement with Canada, and the negotiation of another with CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market). Since 2004, Dr. Trejos has been the president of the board of CINDE, the investment promotion agency of Costa Rica. He also has been a consultant for business, government and international organizations in Latin America, the U.S., Europe and Africa, on his own and a partner of Consejeros Económicos y Financieros (CEFSA). He leads Por Costa Rica, a NGO dedicated to the promotion of trade policy and is a director for several major Costa Rican corporations. Co-sponsored by LACS and the International Policy Center at the Ford School of Public Policy.