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New Trade Minister to Foster CAFTA Discussion

October 1, 2004

NEW Foreign Trade Minister ManuelGonzález is promising to promote anopen dialogue between the country’s differentsectors on the Central AmericanFree-Trade Agreement with the UnitedStates (CAFTA).González is confident such dialoguewill make possible CAFTA’s ratificationby the Legislative Assembly, the daily LaNación reported after he was appointed.González took over the Foreign TradeMinistry (COMEX) yesterday, after officiallyresigning Tuesday from his previousjob as Costa Rica’s permanent representativebefore the United Nations’Human Rights Commission in Geneva,Switzerland (TT, Sept. 17). He replacesAlberto Trejos, who resigned last month(TT, Sept. 10).As minister, he will attempt to give a“human face” to foreign trade and reducethe obstacles and bureaucratic requirementsthat make it difficult for CostaRican firms to export.González, 36, said he does not considerhimself to be “a traditional Costa Ricanpolitician.” He said he is confident thenegotiating experience he has acquiredduring his two years with the UnitedNations will serve him well at COMEX.He said getting CAFTA approved willcontinue to be COMEX’s main priority, andpointed out “it will be necessary to analyzethe outcome of the U.S. presidential electionsto be able to define a strategy.”González received his law degree fromthe University of Costa Rica (UCR) in1989. He later obtained a master’s degree incommercial and financial law from ColumbiaUniversity in New York. He is marriedto Silvia Echeverría and has two children.

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