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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Monday, Dec. 9, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 243                              Email us
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One option to make a sale is an owner-carry mortgage
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In a market where buyers are scarce, sellers need to look at all the options to snag a sale.  Owner financing is one option available to sellers, but many expats are scared to death of the courts and shy away from carrying a mortgage.

The judicial debt collection law, Ley 8624, changed collection processes significantly upon its enactment in May 2008.  Before the extensive revisions made by the law to collection actions, carrying a mortgage was scary.  There were so many ways a dishonest debtor could hoodwink an honest creditor.  Trying to collect a debt took years in many cases, and in some, creditors just gave up because of the inefficiency of the system.

The new law is better than the old one but still has its share of problems. The old scheme allocated collection cases into the regular courts, overwhelming them in many jurisdictions. The newer law created special collection courts and put many cases in few places to process them, thus bottlenecking the system.

To this day, from the enactment of the law back in 2008, the special courts are still jammed and slow.  However, even though they move like molasses, they do move and have not come to a complete standstill as with some courts under the original, outdated law.

Because of these facts, lending institutions and private individuals used guarantee trusts in lieu of mortgages.

This structure was extremely convenient for sellers because a notary transferred assets into a special trust and registered it at the Registro Nacional.  There was no transfer tax on this kind of a transaction until laws 9068 and 9069, law for the enforcement of fiscal transparency and law for strengthening tax enforcement, made some major changes to Costa Rica’s code of commerce. Article 662 eliminated the tax exemption of property transfer taxes when transferring property between trustor and trustee.

If a debtor did not pay, assets were returned without too much hoopla. This changed when debtors started to complain the structures were pacto comisorio and not legal in Costa Rica.  A pacto comisorio, known in English as a termination or rescission agreement, is illegal in many Latin American countries because Roman law is the foundation to most legal systems here.

Is it a good idea to carry a mortgage?  The answer depends on the borrower.  They are not all created equally.  Some are deadbeats waiting for the right person to bamboozle, while most are honest buyers looking for an investment, second home, or simply to retire to this beautiful country.

Seth Derish of Costa Rica Investigations, an international private investigation firm, says good due diligence is key to lending money.  Costa Rica has several credit reporting agencies that provide in-depth information on Costa Ricans and foreign residents alike. However, the information available on non-Costa Ricans is sketchy at best.

Derish explained that when lending to a foreigner a creditor should do a study about them in their home country. Many services to do so are available today.  Paying someone to prepare a due diligence workup on a borrower is just good business and a great investment, he said. Good, credit worthy borrowers rarely default on a debt unless there are extenuating circumstances. In those cases, they usually are up front about any problems and try to work out a compromise.

Taking a mortgage on a property in Costa Rica is not the only option available for property sold here, Derish added.  Taking a first deed of trust on a foreign property, perhaps in the States where there is a good legal system, is a good alternative, he said.

Offering financing to sell a home or property definitely helps to market it.  It can also be profitable since interest is higher here than in other countries like the United States or Canada.

Even though the collection system in Costa Rica is not perfect and slow, it does work.  The slowest part is at the beginning, waiting for the auction dates. Yes, dates, usually three, are set. The first one is for the full amount, the second for 25 percent less and the third 50 percent of the original amount.

Lenders who are collecting can bid at the auction or take back the asset if there are no bidders. One very important thing for lenders to remember is that interest in this country expires after one year. If a borrower is in default, it is important to go to collection immediately because then interest is protected. 

Also, crucial, is to never make a deal with a debtor without legal counsel.  Deals, deferred payments, returning of assets without a court case, or just trying to be a nice person usually backfires due to restrictions on pactos comisorio and out-of-court settlements.

Carrying a mortgage or other financial instrument when trying to sell a property can be the difference between selling or waiting forever for a buyer. There is no shortcut for using a good attorney with years of financing experience. However, most of them do not know much about international due diligence, so potential creditors must know the borrower and investigate. Good bankable advice.

Garland M. Baker is a 42-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2013. Use without permission prohibited.

State insuror issues reminder on holiday help
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The state insurance company said Friday that the holidays are the time when a lot of employers duck payment of obligatory insurance on their temporary employees.

The company, the Insituto Nacional de Seguros, offers a workman's compensation policy called riesgos del trabajo.  The policy pays for work-related injuries. 

The state company maintains its own hospital and recovery facilities for such injuries.

During November, December and the first part of January, the company noted, there are a lot of holiday jobs. These include temporary work in retail outlets and even work at the various fairs and festivals that are traditional.

This also is the beginning of the dry season when a homeowner may bring in persons to work on a roof or other parts of the dwelling that might be damaged by opening it to rain.
There are a lot of agricultural activities now, too.

Last year, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros said it handled 1,743 cases of employees working without the required insurance protection. The holidays seem to generate about 45 percent of such cases, it said.

As A.M. Costa Rica reported Sept. 2, hiring workers without the correct insurance can become a nightmare for an expat.

The national insurance institute is ready to sell the required policy, and it also is promoting its RT Hogar, which covers homeowners for domestic employees and for persons who do work at the residence up to three days a month.

The institute noted that this may cover gardeners or others involved in maintenance.

As Garland Baker reported in the Sept. 2 article far too many expats are playing with fire when managing their household staffs and contract workers trying to save money by not purchasing insurance.

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John Koger photo     
Ministry poster at Tica Bus office.

Exit tax status still secret,
as government stays mum

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although the new land exit tax has been suspended, the government does not appear to want anyone to know.

In fact, there has been no official announcement of the suspension from the Dirección General de Migración or from the Ministerio de Hacienda. Even Casa Presidencial with its army of public relations writers has been mum.

The ministry, which contains the tax collecting agency, still has an announcement on its Web site that the tax has been put in force. Tica Bus continues to display a ministry poster that tells travelers to pay the tax at Bancrédito. The poster also mentions a $2 charge being levied for inspecting baggage. Travelers pay this charge even if they have no luggage.

Although the tax won legislative approval in September, the ministry did not report that it was going into effect until Nov. 29. The effective date was the following Monday, Dec. 2.  The ministry announcement admitted that there was no way for travelers to pay the tax at the land borders. Payment had to be made in advance at a bank. However, the ministry did promise that soon the bank would be putting in machines to collect the tax at the major border crossing points.

Predictably, not having a way to collect the tax at the border created chaos, and officials had to suspended the tax late Dec. 2.

But they seem to be keeping this fact a secret. Those who continue to pay the tax find out that this was unnecessary when they reach the land crossing points. John Koger, an agent for Tica Bus in Alajuela, said that the bus firm is not collecting the tax and that he was told that those who have paid in the past and the tax was not collected can use the proof of payment in the future.

"My best recombination is for people to call Migración, through the call center, for the best information," he said. Except for the bus  company and Koger, the bulk of the information about whether the tax is being enforced comes from travelers who made the border crossing.

Officials rushed the tax into effect to take advantage of the heavy flow of travelers over the holidays.

More making road tax payments
than did so in the previous year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 225,000 vehicle owners have paid the 2014 road circulation tax, the marchamo, as of Friday, said the Instituto Nacional de Seguros. That figure is 14,000 vehicles higher than the same period in 2012, it noted. More than a million motorists have yet to pay.

The tax is due by the end of the year, but finding a place to make the payment after Christmas can be difficult.

The fine for driving Jan. 1 and thereafter without the 2014 window sticker is 47,000 colons, about $94, noted the insurance firm.

Vehicle owners do not need a lot of paperwork to make the payment, as has been the case in the past. A cédula and the plate number allows the cashier to look up the vehicle online. Of course, motorists also have to pay for any traffic fines they have accumulated and not paid.

Our reader's opinion
News story on Villalta draws
response saying he's principled

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Re: ‘Prospects of a Villalta presidency terrify expat business leaders’ (Dec, 6)

I am not surprised that no one claimed responsibility for or was brave enough to add a byline to the above. Reminds me an anecdote when Mark Twain criticized an article, and the author asked him "Then how would you have written it?" "Under an assumed name,"  Twain retorted.

This is pretty bad stuff. Proper journalism it ain’t! More comment and speculation than fact. There is not one direct reference to or specific quote from anyone who actually voiced the sentiment stated in the head and alluded to in the story itself. Nor does it cite any specific policy statement from Villalta – the ONLY principled viable candidate in the field - which would elicit the above claim or assumption.

But assuming that such might be the case, I’m not surprised that many expat entrepreneurs would be quaking in their boots, so to speak, at the prospects of a Villalta presidency. They might be forced to pay their fair share of taxes on their profits. Such villainy and unfairness!
Mark Sydney
San José

EDITOR'S NOTE: For clarification, the news story was written by the editor, Jay Brodell.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday,  Dec. 9, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 243
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Cuerpo de Bomberos photo
Some 400 fire fighters closed the Semana del Bombero with a Mass, a parade, blessing of trucks and the assignment of the vehicles to 11 communities. The value of the fire vehicles is in the $3 million range. Their purchase had been announced. They include vehicles for fighting forest fires
and tankers with foam and water. The four-wheel driver forest trucks will be going to Turrialba, Santa Cruz, Parrita, Atenas and Poás. The tankers will go to Tres Ríos, Santo Domingo, Belén, Santa Ana and Pavas. The 11th vehicle, an ambulance, remains in the Central Valley.

Non-profit says country still comes up short on corruption index
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A non-profit organization is not too impressed by the latest ranking of Costa Rica on a worldwide corruption index.

The country has not improved, said the organization, the  Asociación Costa Rica Íntegra. It called upon official and presidential candidates to reinforce mechanisms to fight corruption.

The organization said that there is a lack of education that would reduce tolerance to corrupt practices and that the penalties and enforcement are imposed irregularly, if at all.

The index, produced by Transparency International, gave Costa Rica 53 points out of a possible 100 based on the perception of corruption gathered by five surveys.

That put the country in 49th place, up from 54th place in 2012.  By contrast, the top scorers, New Zealand and Denmark have 91 points each.

Costa Rica Íntegra pointed out that more countries were involved in this year's index. Some officials have cheered the result because Costa Rica was listed as the third best in Latin

America. But the country was a distant third from the top two Latin countries, Uruguay and Chile, by about 20 points, said the organization.

gifts for
Poder Judicial photo
Gifts are stacked up in the atrium of the Judicial Investigating Organization
Judiciary again chips in for a mountain of gifts for poor children
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial workers collected what was called Friday a sea of gifts for under privileged children.

The occasion was the delivery of the gifts to the Asociación de Obras del Espíritu Santo, for distribution around the country. 

The ceremony included a presentation by the chorus of the
 association's children and a tribute to the late Luis Paulino Mora Mora, the former president of the court, who was a strong proponent of the holiday gift program.

The gifts came from donations by judicial workers, ranging from prosecutors, judges, investigators and office workers. This is the seventh year of the program. Also speaking was the current president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, Zarela Villanueva Monge. 


You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday,  Dec. 9, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 243
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Some Paragon purchasers seek to organize to regain possession of property
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some former Paragon Properties buyers are trying to organize to retain ownership of the land they purchased.

Paragon was the heavily marketed real estate venture that collapsed in the face of the economic downturn.

The company purchased large tracts and sold them as retirement lots to mostly a North American clientele. The project was fueled by telephone pitchmen in Florida offering free trips to Costa Rica.

Paragon sold property in several ways as owners became more familiar with Costa Rican law. William Gale, Paragon chairman, said in early 2009 that his firms had sold  2,509 lots in some 17 projects along the Pacific coast. Many of those purchasers put down an initial deposit, perhaps 40 percent. According to a typical purchase agreement, the buyers said they would pay the balance and build a home, perhaps in as little as two years. Paragon agreed to put in roads, water systems in some projects and other infrastructure.

The owners who are trying to organize have purchased their property in the Paragon development Heights of Pacifica. Each property was a separate Costa Rican corporation and each owner was supposed to receive corporate books after the property was filed in the Registro Nacional.

One of the property owners, Lori Sirovy, said that about 20 property owners
held a conference call last week and "it was amazing how few knew anything about having to pay taxes, where their books were, if they even owned the property they thought.  We are trying to organize and share information."

The group has created a Facebook page where they hope to share information. There also is an email address:

The property owners may be facing an uphill battle. A realty firm here is trying to enlist property owners as management clients to look after their land. The email fro m the firm mentioned the usual property perils, including squatters and herds of grazing cows.

Gale at one time showed a reporter documents that had been presented to the Registro. He also said he planned to make the bulk of his money building homes for his land purchasers.

A.M. Costa Rica criticized the firm for a skimpy sales contract, and a reporter took a tour of the first project at Parrita. The company did not seem much different than others during the real estate boom years, but it was clear that Paragon had high overhead with sale commissions to telephone pitchmen and free air tickets.

After the real estate bubble burst, Paragon was known to have sold substantial land in settlement of some debts. There has been no effort by the company executives to keep in contact with buyers, in part because they were facing a flurry of civil actions in Florida, where Gale was a licensed real estate broker.

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MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

Beautiful studio home with garden patio
Completely furnished with best bed (Jiron™ Full), refri, stove, dishes, pans, etc. TV and high-speed internet connected. Free.
Located high above a river. You will sleep like a baby. Perfect weather, never too hot nor cold. Secure, private and secluded, and yet, only 10 minutes to San Isidro de El General (fairly large city in the mountains with everything) and from there, 40 minutes to beaches. Bus is close and costs 35 cents to San Isidro. Special price for single, long-term renter, nonsmoker: $425 + utilities. Go to and put in, #969365 for pics and full description Then write to us, Thanks. Email:

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80
stations, water, washer and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

prime properties
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Monday,  Dec. 9, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 243
Real Estate
About us


Scientists say land undersea
contains freshwater deposits

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Vast reservoirs of fresh water found beneath the ocean floors could potentially be tapped to provide drinking water to parts of the world that face shortages, according to researchers in Australia.
They think the reservoirs, which have been located off Australia, China, North America and South Africa, could hold up to half a million cubic kilometers of low-salinity water.
“The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s subsurface in the past century since 1900,” says lead author Vincent Post of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training and the School of the Environment at Flinders University.
They say the amounts could sustain some regions of the world for decades and stave off, at least temporarily, a global water crisis.
These reserves formed over the past hundreds of thousands of years when on average the sea level was much lower than it is today, and when the coastline was further out, said Post.
“So when it rained, the water would infiltrate into the ground and fill up the water table in areas that are nowadays under the sea,” he said. “It happened all around the world, and when the sea level rose when ice caps started melting some 20,000 years ago, these areas were covered by the ocean.
He added that many of the aquifers are protected from seawater by layers of clay and sediment that sit on top of them.
The aquifers are similar to those below land, which much of the world relies on for drinking water. Their salinity is low enough for them to be turned into potable water, Post said.
Getting to the water could be expensive, however.
“There are two ways to access this water – build a platform out at sea and drill into the seabed, or drill from the mainland or islands close to the aquifers,” said Post.
While offshore drilling can be very costly, he said this source of freshwater should be assessed and considered in terms of cost, sustainability and environmental impact against other water sources such as desalination, or even building large new dams on land.
“Freshwater under the seabed is much less salty than seawater,” said Post. “This means it can be converted to drinking water with less energy than seawater desalination, and it would also leave us with a lot less hyper-saline water.”
Post also warns that these newly discovered aquifers are non-renewable.
“We should use them carefully – once gone, they won’t be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time.”

Western and central U.S.
face a bitter winter storm

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Winter storms hit a vast region of the United States this weekend, bringing snow, wind and ice.

An area stretching from northern Texas to the Mid-Atlantic saw snow-covered roads, car accidents and travel delays Saturday and continuing Sunday.

Another wintry snowstorm hit California, dumping 5 to 10 centimeters (two to four inches) of snow in the city of Auburn. This storm was on the move, bringing harsh conditions eastward.

In Texas, near freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall created an icy nightmare on the roads and stranded passengers in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Airport officials say more than 400 flights were canceled Saturday.

As heavy snow and freezing rain continued to lash the central U.S., utility crews in Texas and Arkansas tried to restore power to the more than 100,000 households affected by the storm.

With the storms having moved east Sunday, most of the central and western part of the country face some of the coldest temperatures in years, the weather service predicted in an online forecast.

Obama wants jobless checks
to continue for 1.3 million

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits.

Obama said in his weekly address Saturday 1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits if Congress does not act before it leaves for the Christmas recess.

The president said the economic lifeline is in jeopardy because "Republicans in this Congress - which is on track to be the most unproductive in history - have, so far, refused to extend it."

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has predicted that allowing benefits to expire will stunt economic growth next year.

President Obama said extending unemployment benefits "isn't just the right thing to do for our families -- it's the smart thing to do for our economy."

Rep. Renee Ellmers delivered the Republican weekly address. She criticized Obama's healthcare law that has resulted in some Americans losing their health insurance plans, despite a promise from the president that would not happen.

The Affordable Health Care Act was designed to make health insurance affordable for the millions of people who have no coverage.

North Korea releases vet
who served in war there

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An American Korean War veteran has returned to the United States after being detained for more than a month in North Korea.

Merrill Newman, 85, arrived at San Francisco International Airport Saturday accompanied by his wife and son.

He told reporters he is tired, but that he has experienced a great homecoming. He thanked U.S. and Swedish diplomats for helping secure his release.

Newman flew to San Francisco from Beijing, after being deported early Saturday by North Korean authorities.

He had been visiting North Korea with a tour group when he was removed from an airplane Oct. 26 as he prepared to leave the country.

Last month, the North's official Korean Central News Agency posted a video of Newman reading an apology aloud, confessing to alleged crimes during the Korean War and so-called hostile acts.

North Korea's news agency said Saturday Newman was released on humanitarian grounds because he had admitted wrongdoing and apologized.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called Newman's release a positive decision, but urged Pyongyang to also release another American, Kenneth Bae, who has been held there for more than a year. Bae is a Korean-American missionary and tour operator. He is being held for alleged subversion.

Harf thanked the government of Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea because the U.S. does not have an embassy there.

Newman's release came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited South Korea. Biden said he had spoken with Newman by phone after his release.

U.S. job growth brings
rate down to 7 percent

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The world’s largest economy continued to build momentum with better than expected job growth in November. The U.S. government says American companies hired more workers than expected last month, cutting the unemployment rate to 7 percent, which is the lowest level in five years. Despite a steadily improving job picture, though, some doubts remain about the sustainability of the U.S. recovery.

American businesses added 203,000 jobs in November. That works out to a four-month average of more than 200,000 hires per month.

The last time unemployment was this low was five years ago.’s Mark Hamrick said this month's drop in unemployment was different.

He said, “This time it’s much different. We had labor force participation holding steady and we saw broad-based improvement in the job market. It wasn’t just some of those sub-standard jobs that we’ve seen in months past.”

That means gains in higher paying industries. Manufacturing added 27,000 jobs, construction gained 17,000. The average work week expanded, and hourly wages grew.

And despite a weak start to the holiday shopping season, hiring at shopping malls and department stores has been steady, according to the National Retail Federation's Kathy Grannis.

“Retailers are expected to hire anywhere from 702,000 to 750,000. Very much on pace with last year, so of course, with expected growth comes the opportunity for more hires,“ said Grannis.

Although there are worries that an improving U.S. outlook might hasten a pull-back of the central bank’s easy-money policies, the strong job growth was welcome news on Wall Street.

Whether the U.S. recovery has staying power, however, remains in doubt.

Hamrick said another budget stalemate in Congress could easily erase recent gains. “We do have some looming deadlines there, and I know that consumers are concerned about the dysfunction that has become seemingly commonplace in Washington.”

Congress faces a new budget deadline Friday. Without a bipartisan agreement on spending, the government could run out of money by January.

U.S. residential real estate
is big lure for foreigners

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The wealthy around the world are always looking for ways to invest their money, and for some people that means buying homes in the United States. While foreign buyers make up just more than 6 percent of overall home sales in the United States, certain cities are disproportionately affected by foreign buyers, and that includes neighborhoods in southern California.
Skeptics may call the belief in feng shui a superstition, but many Chinese consider it an art, and essential for good luck and health in a home. When Chinese native Cathay Wicks searched for a home in the United States, she looked for feng shui elements.

She said she looks for a home that has a lot of light. She said it does not have to be big, but it needs to feel bright.

Wicks is a part of a growing number of people from overseas who are interested in buying homes in major U.S. cities.

Jed Kolko is chief economist for the real estate site “There are some parts of the United States that see very strong foreign demand and that helps keep prices high in lots of areas. The places where we see this impact the most is in parts of Los Angeles, Miami and New York,” he said.

The number of buyers from China has been increasing, according to Los Angeles-based real estate expert Angela Wong. In the past year, her clients from China have increased by 30 percent.

She said the first reason her clients buy homes in the United States is so their children can attend school here. The second reason: to immigrate here just like Cathay Wicks, who bought a home in a Los Angeles suburb.

Wicks said the weather in Los Angeles is good, and it also is convenient because there are more Chinese here so it does not feel like a foreign country.

More than half of the buyers from China come to California.

In Irvine, California, a new housing development is attracting the attention of potential Chinese buyers with feng shui elements inside the homes and throughout the neighborhood. Developer Emile Haddad came up with the idea. “So we have done feng shui on everything we have. We also have a consultant who looked even at street names when we named the streets. We want to make sure the names of the streets are appropriate in terms of either superstition or in terms of simple pronunciation,” said Haddad.

It is not just people from China, however, who are buying homes in the United States. People from nearly 70 countries are investing their money in U.S. homes. Realtor Shannon Miller said most foreign buyers pay cash, making housing markets such as Los Angeles extremely competitive for domestic buyers who do not have the cash.

“Most of the buyers are trying to buy their homes the traditional way through a loan, and the cash buyers are coming in and they are beating them out. They appeared when the market was full of foreclosure properties. Now their interest is in everything,” said Miller.

One of the neighborhoods that interests foreign buyers is affluent Beverly Hills, where Stan Smith works as a broker. “We have seen different countries go through different economic cycles, and as they prosper they come here. They want to buy a trophy property. They want to put their money in a safe place.”

Another reason for buying a home in the United States: the EB-5 visa. It requires a foreigner to not only invest a certain amount of money in commercial enterprises here, but also have a U.S. home. Economists expect home prices to keep rising, so to make a profit they do not expect foreign investors to sell their homes anytime soon.

Air Canada due to decide
between Boeing and Airbus

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Air Canada appears close to deciding whether to buy up to 60 new narrowbody jets from Airbus or Boeing Co., a decision that could settle which of the giant plane makers wins their annual order race, industry sources said.

The Canadian flag carrier has said it is looking to renew its fleet of single-aisle aircraft, which currently includes more than 50 Airbus A320 and A321 jets, as well as 45 Embraer 190 planes.

Chief Executive Calin Rovinescu had previously said he hopes a decision will be made by the end of the year, noting the decision would involve more than 100 airplanes.

A spokesman for Air Canada said no decision had been made, but two people familiar with the matter said a decision could come as early as next week when the airline's board meets.

The airline spokesman declined to comment on the timing of any board discussions.

“We typically don't talk about board meetings,” said Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick, who also declined to comment on the board's agenda. “I can tell you on the record that no decision has been made.”

Industry sources said Air Canada was expected to address its fleet renewal needs in two phases, starting with a decision on whether to stick with Airbus for medium-haul jets, and pick its revamped A320neo version, or switch to the Boeing 737 MAX.

Both plane makers claim their latest medium-haul offerings provide better fuel savings and easier maintenance.

The airline is expected to opt for 30 or more jets immediately by placing firm orders and place options for up to another 30 as insurance against a faster than expected upturn in the economy, the sources said, asking not to be identified.

Such a deal would be worth up to $6 billion if all the options were exercised.

Airbus and Boeing both declined to comment.

The decision is subject to delay or changes in volume but if approved, would mark the climax to a bruising and widely watched campaign between the world's dominant plane makers.

Airbus was ahead of its U.S. rival in the number of orders in the first 11 months of the year, but the race for the 2013 order crown looks finely balanced once recent deals that have yet to make it into the order books are added to the tally.

The sources denied an industry report that Airbus had already been selected for the deal.

Boeing, which dominates Air Canada's fleet of wide-body jets, is trying to overturn Airbus as incumbent operator for medium-haul planes at Air Canada.

A win for Boeing in its home region would mark a rebound in the region after Airbus displaced it at Mexican low-cost airline VivaAerobus in a fierce contest earlier this year.

Arctic ice decline linked
to weather, reports says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As ice at the North Pole declines, some researchers are finding a link between that phenomenon and recent bouts of extreme weather. A new study suggests rapid warming in the Arctic may be altering weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere, but skeptics say the case is far from proven.
In the past three decades, ice around the North Pole has declined by half, according to Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis.
“If you take into account the thickness as well, we’ve lost almost three-quarters of the volume of the sea ice. So, it’s just an unbelievable amount of change that’s going on in the Arctic,” said Ms. Francis.
At the same time, the Northern Hemisphere has seen some unbelievable weather in the last decade, including record-breaking heat waves and droughts in North America and Europe, and devastating floods in East Asia, to name a few.
The question is: are they connected?
Ms. Francis and colleagues went back through 30 years of weather data and measurements of Arctic ice and snow cover in northern latitudes. Their findings did show a correlation between the two.
“What we found was, when there was less ice or less snow in any given year during the summertime, that that was more likely to occur at the same time as the occurrences of heat waves,” said Ms. Francis.
They published their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change. Ms. Francis said the loss of ice and snow is affecting the high-altitude winds called the jet stream, which push weather patterns around the Northern Hemisphere.
The jet stream is driven by the difference in temperature between the Arctic and the temperate zones. The bigger the difference, the faster the jet stream flows.
However, Ms. Francis notes that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, which will lessen the effect of the jet stream.
“If we warm the arctic faster, then it’s decreasing the temperature difference and causing the jet stream to get weaker,” explained Francis.
A weaker jet stream is wavier, she said. Think of a stream flowing down a mountain; the steeper the height difference, the faster and straighter it runs. On level ground, that stream can meander.
As the jet stream meanders, it pulls hot weather up from the tropics or cold weather down from the Arctic.
“As these waves get larger, they tend to move more slowly from west to east. So, as they do that, whatever weather they’re causing down at the surface also changes more slowly,” said Ms. Francis.
The result is that heat waves, cold snaps and rainstorms last longer. However, Ms. Francis is quick to warn against drawing conclusions too hastily.
“It could be true, but at the moment I don’t think the evidence is there to really strongly argue the case,” cautioned Ms. Francis.
University of Exeter climate scientist James Screen is one of those not convinced.
Screen says the new study only shows a few scattered areas of the globe where the link between sea ice loss and heat waves are significant, according to mathematical tests.
“Which implies either that the relationship is quite weak, or actually, it could be interpreted that the relationship doesn’t exist at all,” said Screen.
Screen also pointed out that researchers have just begun to study the impact of Arctic melting on global weather.
“It’s a hot topic, but there’s a lot of work to be done. The jury’s still out on whether Arctic ice is influencing weather extremes,” said Screen.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
Casa del pacifico logo
Pacifica living
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

                      • Building completion services
                      • Interior design & decoration
                      • Custom furniture design & manufacturing.

Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
Serving region for 10 years.
We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 792
300 square meters of land, 195 square meters of construction HERE
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Gulf road

Beachfront pristine five-hectare (13-acre) property

includes a common open air lodge with kitchen, three cabins, a caretaker's house, a garage and a secure storeroom. The property is maritime and has a current and valid maritime user's permit, all up to date and clear. In addition to the immaculately landscaped portion of the property that is already developed with bungalows, there are an additional three hectares that are ready for expansion and are cleared and planted in grass. The sales offer includes furnishings, appliances, catamaran, kayaks, and a whole series of extras. This property has about 300 meters of beach front in a docile portion of the gulf about 15 minutes north of Puerto Jimeenez, ideal for mooring boats just off the property shoreline. Has municipal water and power. Offered at $970,000. All reasonable offers will be considered. See photos and maps and more at Contact us at: or +1-866-514-7435.

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

long view

200 miles of panoramic views over the Gulf of Nicoya and from Nicaragua along the volcanoes of the Cordillera de Guanacaste down to Jacó and around the southern Nicoya Peninsula to the open Pacific. 55 acres located at an altitude of about 2,800 feet in a fresh eternal spring climate, forest and pasture plus an old avocado forest. Many home sites, hidden entrance, property roads, spring waters.  195,000 USD

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $185,000.
Quietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Water storage tank with pump maintains high pressure to bathrooms on all three floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577. C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email:

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail for more information ¡y se habla español!

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email:

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Guiones retreat
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)
Jaco station
Gas Station/Auto Plaza
Located on the Pan American Highway, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Central America. This property is  45,000  square feet or  18,000  meters.  Liquor and convenience store is optional. Room to add an automotive service, car wash, restaurant, pharmacy, lotto sales, tour sales, ATM's,  etc, for a real money maker. Also future plans for a 80-unit  auto motel and casino. See on Youtube at: Asking price  $3.9 million. Email or call: 8899-9870.

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.

Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Monday,  Dec. 9, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 243
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Fund raiser in Guanacaste
seeks funds for defibrillators

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

How much is a human life worth?

The Guanacaste English speaking community figures that one is worth plenty and is trying to raise funds for five or six defibrillators for rescue agencies and clinics there.

A resident, Hara Maderich, said a young man of 30 came very close to dying of a heart attack and there was no portable defibrillator anywhere in the area to prevent it.

The Guanacaste Veterans Association spearheaded by Linda Gray of Coldwell Banker in Hermosa has joined forces with a Papagayo ladies group, area merchants and a Playa Cocos physician to raise funds for portable defibrillators to be given to the local first responders, trained volunteers and local clinics.

Ms. Gray said a fund raiser will be Sunday with wine tasting, food, live music,  a raffle, silent auction, vendor sales special items, baked goods.

Prizes will be raffled off including cases of wine, restaurant meals, auto care items, fishing trips and original art pieces. Painting by Carlos Hillier will be featured. All sales and raffle donations will contribute to the goal of purchasing the life-saving defibrillators, supplies and training. said an announcement.

Each device is said to cost from $1,000 to $1,200. The group already raised $450 at an earlier fund raiser.

Servicios.Periodisticos Globales photo
Visitors inspect the biodigester.

Biodigester in Atenas shows
how to reduce electric bills

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A biodigester was the star attraction when the Universidad Técnica Nacional in Atenas showed 39 visitors how the gas produced by the device can be used for heating and other ways to reduce the utility bill.

Fundación Red de Energía organized the event with support form the Programa de Recursos Digitales para el Desarrollo Económico Sostenible  and the Dutch Fundación HIVOS.

The biodigester, an 85-cubic meter bag, takes the waste from some 90 milk cows and converts the material into methane gas for cooking and heating. The firm Viogaz installed the system. The device is about 3,000 cubic feet.

The emphasis was on the applications in rural areas where there is a sufficient amount of material for the biodigester.

Runoff from cows is a big pollution problem, and one of the goals of the project is to eliminate that, said Diego Argüello, director of extension for the school.

Ojochal will have a party
to celebrate TV show

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Residents around Ojochal on the Pacific Coast are having a party Wednesday to celebrate the appearance of a local property in the television show House Hunters International.

Marcia Oro of OSA Tropical Properties appeared as the broker in the segment, which is posted on YouTube HERE

Scott Dinsmore, owner and general manager of the Alma Hotel Group, is hosting the party. The hotel's restaurant, the Castillo, appeared in the show.

House Hunters has taped shows in Costa Rica in the past, including one in the Central Valley and one in Tamarindo.

Costa Rican News
Retire NOW in Costa Rica

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From Page 7:

Commerce minister praises World Trade deal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

The minister of commerce is praising the Bali accord as a cost-saving measure that will promote international trade.

The minster, Anabel González, represented Costa Rica at the World Trade Organization in Indonesia where the pact was approved. She had spoken in favor of the agreement earlier in the week.

"We are very pleased by the agreement reached in the ministerial conference in Bali, in particular the accord over the facilitation of commerce because it will speed up such exchanges, reduce costs and improve the competitivity and the climate of business in the country," said the minster.

The so-called Bali Pact is the first agreement that the world body has approved since the organization was founded in 1995.

Roberto Azevedo, World Trade Organization director-general, actually shed tears during the summit's closing ceremony Saturday, saying, "for the first time in history, the WTO has finally delivered."

The centerpiece of the agreement eases barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more transparent. The deal still must be approved by all 159 member governments.

The four days of talks had been threatened when Cuba said it would not accept a deal that would not help end the U.S. embargo of the Communist nation. Cuba later dropped its threat of a veto.

Analysts estimate that the deal will add $1 trillion to the world economy and say it preserved the future of the World Trade Organization.