ISTANBUL – Costa Rica is looking to develop closer commercial and political ties with Turkey, says Serhan Süzer, Costa Rica’s honorary consul in Istanbul. Bilateral trade grew from $8.1 million to $57.2 million between 2000 and 2006.

The Republic of Costa Rica is looking to develop closer commercial and political ties with Turkey, according to the honorary consul of the Central American nation in Istanbul.

Serhan Süzer said that albeit trade between Turkey and Costa Rica has grown notably over the past eight years to reach the current volume of approximately $60 million a year, there is no free trade agreement between the two countries.

“We are actively working to increase trade volume between the two countries, which still is quite minor,” Süzer told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review last week. “We are also keen to examine the potentials for a free trade agreement between Turkey and Costa Rica.”

Closer political relations include plans for a Costa Rican official delegation to visit Turkey next year. “An official visit would strengthen bilateral ties further and create the right environment for closer cooperation in the future,” Süzer said.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and Costa Rica grew from $8.1 million to $57.2 million between the years 2000 and 2006, according to Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade. Trade volume between the two countries has largely been in Costa Rica’s favor, whose imports to Turkey totaled $9.63 million in 2006, whilst Turkey’s exports to Costa Rica stood at $47.5 million.

Süzer expects the range of exports from Turkey to Costa Rica to become more diverse in the future. At present, export items from Turkey include mainly steel and iron, engine vehicles, tomatoes, tractors and dry foods. “White goods, textiles, pharmaceuticals and beverages are among the products Turkish firms can export to Costa Rica and capture a market share there. We expect the number of Turkish firms exporting to Costa Rica to increase from the current dozen or so to 20 once the world economy starts healing. Several new entrants to the market have already showed their interest in the Costa Rican market,” Süzer said.

Market for coffee imports Costa Rican firms, on the other hand, have a major opportunity to increase their trade volume further by taking part in Turkey’s growing coffee culture, a market inadequately explored, Süzer said.

The main items imported from Costa Rica to Turkey currently include bananas, pineapples, cigars and information technology products.

“One major opportunity not yet explored enough by Costa Rican firms is exporting coffee to Turkey. Coffee is the third most important export of Costa Rica and known for its high quality throughout the world,” Süzer said. “In Turkey, on the other hand, coffee consumption has been on the increase in the past years, but imports have been mostly from Brazil. This means notable business opportunities.”