Costa Rica and Colombia launched the fourth round of negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), in which both countries are expected to bring to the table their initial offers of market access.

According to the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex), the representatives of both countries could define this week in San Jose the rules of origin for certain products and services annexes.

“We enter the final stage of negotiation that seeks to achieve a balance between our offensive and defensive interests,” said Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, Anabel Gonzalez said in a statement regarding the free trade agreement.

“For Costa Rica negotiations with Colombia is a natural step, which would increase its presence in this market and promote the creation of larger and stronger trade links in South America, beyond what we already have with Chile and Peru,” said Gonzalez.

During the previous round Costa Rica and Colombia closed 41 chapters of access to markets for goods and 70 for specific rules, among which are those applied to meat, fruits, vegetables, coffee, milk, cereals, sauces and dressings, pharmaceuticals and Aluminium products, so that a considerable improvement is expected this week.

For Costa Rica, Colombia represents a market with dimensions comparable to those of Central America, with a population of approximately 46 million people, but with a higher purchasing power.

According to a market study of the Trade Office, there are opportunities for Costa Rican exporters especially in sectors such as electronics, metal-mechanical, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, medical and precision equipment.

In addition under the free trade agreement, Costa Rica has a particular interest in closer ties with Colombia, because the FTA would open the opportunity to become a full member of the Pacific Alliance, since he already has existing agreements with Mexico, Chile and Peru.

The balance of trade between the two nations is largely favorable to Colombia, because according to official figures from Costa Rica, in 2011 the Central American country exported $ 48.2 million, but imported from that country 455.7 million.

Both countries have taken this negotiation in July last year and expect conclude this year.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica