f_0022598_18590 - Striving for Developed Status: Costa Rica...

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Spring 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 12 Striving for Developed Status: Costa Rica and the United States’ 21 st Century Engagement Anne Slaughter Andrew United States Ambassador to Costa Rica ifty years ago, Costa Rica, like most of its Latin neighbors, was a developing country struggling for political stability and economic development. Today, we find Latin America as a whole, more stable, prosperous and democratic, with Costa Rica recognized as one of the most stable democracies in the Americas. Evaluated country by country, however, Costa Rica and the rest of Central America, and its Southern neighbors are less homogenous today, both economically and politically. Indeed, The Economist recently reported that Latin America’s diversity today defies generalizations: from Brazil, with one of the largest economies in the world and a global political player with membership in the G-20 among other organizations; to Nicaragua, the second poorest economy in the hemisphere, after Haiti. In calibrating US foreign policy engagement and investment, though, generaliza- tions or categories can provide a helpful focus. Costa Rica is typically categorized geographically with its Central American neighbors, with US foreign policy engagement focused on combating illicit drug and other contraband trafficking in Central America under the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and on advancing a robust regional Central American trading zone under the US Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This article considers another category for focusing and framing US foreign policy engagement with Costa Rica. Costa Rica, along with a group of other Latin American countries such as Uruguay, Chile, and Panama, comprise a category of Latin American countries that are beyond the basics of a developing country, but are not yet—or just recently—graduated into the ranks of developed countries. These countries, like Costa Rica, have certain assets that have fostered their success, including: an emphasis on investing in education and producing higher levels of literacy; a well-educated and more globally connected leadership in government and civil society; a more stable, democratic political system; or a more diversified economy with structural support for entrepreneurialism. Such “developing-but-not-yet-developed” countries, however, lag in key resources necessary to achieve their goals of becoming developed countries. For example, there may be insufficient governmental expertise in specialized, sophisticated governmental functions; e.g., having expertise with complex transactions—like concessions—or with complex legal procedures such as money laundering cases. Other challenges typically include: a low tax burden and inadequate political will or capacity to implement necessary F
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Spring 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 13 and effective fiscal reform; and limited access for public and private organizations to resource networks readily available in developed countries. From the US foreign policy perspective, there is another similarity among most of
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course COMM 321 taught by Professor Erinmcclellan during the Spring '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0022598_18590 - Striving for Developed Status: Costa Rica...

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