Trade agreement with China
China and Costa Rica officially launched contacts leading to the discussion of a free trade agreement between the two nations. A mission from the People’s Republic of China arrived here to develop technical studies aimed at defining whether the negotiations for the eventual agreement should be launched. The Ministry of Foreign Commerce explained that the feasibility study will initially last six months. China has soon become Costa Rica’s second market, after the United States. From January through November last year, China bought $1,304 million worth of Costa Rican goods, while the United States purchased $3,032 million, and Holland, the third leading market, bought $428 million, according to the Foreign Commerce Promoter (PROCOMER in Spanish).
Costa Rica has the potential to treble her generation of clean power and to address the long-term needs of the nation without resorting to resources located in national parks, according to the 13th State of the Nation report and the expansion program for 2008-2021 of the National Power and Telecommunication Institution (ICE in Spanish). Currently, the generation capacity is 1,987 megawatt-hour; of that total, 1,645 (82.7 percent) come from renewable resources, mainly water (1,409 megawatts). The ICE has found that it is possible to generate another 4,836 megawatts, not including the power available inside national parks and the projects which the Institution is currently developing. The sources would be rivers, wind, volcanic gases, and the waste from processing sugar cane.
Revolution Places, a U.S. firm, plans an $800-million tourist development at Punta Cacique, Guanacaste, in the Costa Rican northern Pacific. The idea is to make of the project an example of integration of the community and the protection of the environment. Revolution founder Steve Case made the announcement. Case is well-known as the co-founder of America On Line (AOL). The development would take in two luxury hotels –with 300 rooms between the two–, 30 villas, spa, golf course, and an Agassi-Graf tennis and physical fitness center. According to case, Punta Cacique is one of the most beautiful places he has seen in the world.
War against invaders
Costa Rica is at war with the invaders of Cocos Island, six species of animals and four of plants. The struggle is aimed at preventing the national park from losing its original biodiversity and preserving its condition of Mankind Natural Heritage. A team of experts from the Ministry of the Environment and the United Nations Program for Development is in charge of the operation, which includes hunting the invading animal species –taken by man to the island, located 532 kilometers from the mainland (over 330 miles)–, and eradicating the vegetable ones, that include coffee. According to historians, Spanish sailors, English pirates, and Costa Ricans have introduced the species along centuries. Cats, for example, arrived in 1879, common rats in 1935, and pigs in 1973. Most plants, including coffee, were introduced in 1899, to address the needs of treasure hunters, lured by the alleged riches buried by pirates in the island.
Lights on at 5 p.m.
The traffic police will request legislators to pass a bill that makes it mandatory for motor vehicles to turn their lights on at 5 p.m., not at 6 p.m. as it is currently regulated. The request agrees with a study by the University of Costa Rica which found that such a measure would protect mainly pedestrians and cyclists, particularly from October through March, when the days are shorter in the Northern Hemisphere.
New U.S. ambassador
Even though the name of his successor has not been disclosed yet, Mark Langdale has left the U.S. Embassy in San Jose to become a director of a library system belonging to his friend George W. Bush’s foundation. He held the diplomatic post for two years and two months and was in the eye of the storm when the opposition to the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement charged him of influencing voters in relation to last October 7th referendum in Costa Rica. No sound reasons for the denunciation were found.
Tico tapir to U.S.
Romeo, a Costa Rican 3-year-old tapir, traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, where he is expected to mate with Houston, a Panamanian female. Romeo was borrowed by an organization dedicated to prevent the extinction of tapirs, said Juan Rojas, of the Center for the Rescue of Wildlife, in La Marina, San Carlos (northern Costa Rica), where the Tico specimen was kept.
Romeo, a Costa Rican 3-year-old tapir.
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