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    Costa Rica to Start Trade Talks With Korea, Colombia in 2012

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    (Bloomberg) – Costa Rica plans to start negotiating free trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia this year and complete an accord with members of the European Free Trade Area by October, the country’s trade minister said.

    South Korea and Colombia “have presented a feasibility study and we are basically waiting for Korea to be ready,” Anabel Gonzalez said in an interview at a conference in Doha, Qatar. “I hope again that we can launch negotiations around the middle of this year and the same with Colombia.”

    Central America’s second-biggest economy has completed two rounds of negotiations with the European Free Trade Area, comprising Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, she said. The next round is scheduled for June.

    Costa Rica has opened its economy to foreign investment and pursued trade agreements with countries including the U.S., Canada and the European Union. Last year, President Laura Chinchilla signed a free trade accord with China.

    Foreign direct investment in Costa Rica rose 52 percent to a record $1.56 billion in the first nine months of 2011 on increased spending by technology and telecommunications companies. The country counts as investors U.S. corporations such as Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., which have manufacturing and service units in the country.

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