Costa Ricans voted in favour of a free trade agreement with the United States in a referendum.
Costa Rican voters gave their approval for a free trade agreement with the U.S. yesterday, handing President Oscar Arias a victory and signaling a desire for closer ties with the country's biggest trading partner.
With 98 percent of votes counted in the national referendum, 51.6 percent backed congressional approval for the agreement while 48.4 percent were opposed, Costa Rica's electoral tribunal said on its Web site.
Arias, winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize, staked much of his political agenda on passage of the accord, known as DR- CAFTA, arguing it would boost growth, cut unemployment and benefit the poor in Central America's second-biggest economy. Opponents, including former presidential candidate Otton Solis, said the treaty would put small farmers out of business and give foreigners too much control over the $22 billion economy.