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With CAFTA passed, Costa Rica now must approve several key laws to comply with the free trade accord.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

Foreign investors and Costa Rican exporters breathed a sigh of relief after the results of Sunday's CAFTA referendum in Costa Rica. Despite several polls showing a majority against the treaty, in the end it passed. With 98.4 percent of the votes counted, supporters of CAFTA boasted 51.6 percent, while opponents had 48.4 percent.

"We view DR-CAFTA ratification...as very good news for the credit and expect the positive referendum outcome to elicit a favorable near-term market response," Bear Stearns analyst Franco Uccelli said today.

The approval also opens the way for Costa Rica to continue to negotiate an Association Accord with the European Union (EU) alongside other Central American countries, Global Insight analyst Marion Barbel said in a commentary Monday.

The EU had postponed the start of talks until after Costa Rica's vote. Negotiations will start...

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