China Plans Free Trade Zone in Puntarenas

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    A free trade zone may come to Puntarenas by the year 2020, depending on the results of a fact-finding mission scheduled for next month.

    The Chinese-led project anticipates the construction of an active economic zone, including a large business complex.  The timing of the visit coincides with President Solis’ push for the purchase of bonds by the Chinese government.

    Previously the Development Bank of China indicated that Puntarenas is an ideal location because of its proximity to Caldera Port.

    President Solis indicated that he hopes that Puntarenas may become a “logistic corridor,” on the basis that it would generate a significant amount of employment for the country.

    With this free trade zone project, Costa Rica would become the first country where China undertakes such an endeavor outside of its own national territory. Along with Puntarenas, Limón and Guanacaste are also being considered as possible locations for this particular project.

    With Costa Rica’s ideal geographic location, it is highly favorable as a duty-free zone. Part of the free trade agreement, or Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) in Spanish, with China of 2011 included plans for this type of activity.

    Before any agreement on the zone can be reached, it must be approved by Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly.

    Costa Rica is China’s second largest trading partner in Central America. China is the second largest trading partner of Costa Rica, after the U.S. In recent years, bilateral trade between the two countries has grown rapidly.

    Brief Historical Timeline of China – Costa Rican Relations

    • June 2007 — China and Costa Rica established diplomatic relations
    • November 2008 — Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Costa Rica and announced with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias the launch of China-Costa Rica free trade negotiations.
    • 2010 — The first draft of the free trade agreement was created.
    • October 2011 — the Free Trade Agreement was accepted by both countries.
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