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Obama emphasizes trade with Latin America

President Barack Obamgestures as he answers questiduring news conference with CostRicPresident LaurChinchillNational Center for Art Culture San Jose CostRicFriday May

President Barack Obama gestures as he answers a question during a news conference with Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla at the National Center for Art and Culture in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, May 3, 2013. Obama was responding to the ongoing situation in Syria. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Updated: May 4, 2013 12:33PM

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — President Barack Obama says the U.S. places great importance on its trading relationships with Latin America and will keep working to improve those ties and help the region become more competitive.

Obama says it’s important because “we now live in a very competitive 21st century world.”

The president spoke at a forum Saturday in Costa Rica on economic growth and development.

Obama said having the best education and regulatory systems and good coordination among the hemisphere’s countries will help the region from falling behind others in the world.

Obama is on the final day of a three-day visit to Latin America.

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