SAN JOSE — Costa Rica’s manufacturers are asking to be excluded from the free trade treaty the Central American country plans to negotiate with China in a process set to begin in January.

The head of the Chamber of Industries of Costa Rica, or CICR, Juan Maria Gonzalez, told a press conference that there are very few sectors that can provide a profit for Costa Rican industry within the trade accord with China.

Gonzalez said that Costa Rica has much to lose by agreeing to a treaty of this kind with the giant Asian nation and should push for a partial accord in which the market is opened up only to certain sectors and products.

“An FTA (free trade agreement) puts all sectors on the negotiating table. A treaty of this kind with a manufacturing country like China limits the decisions on the future of local industry, and therefore we ask for the sector to be excluded” from it, he said.

The CICR says that a treaty with China “is not appropriate” because that country still has some of the bad habits of a centralized economy, including little experience with the regulations of the World Trade Organization and, above all, it has not been able to establish effective health and safety controls for its exports.

In addition, the “artificially low” prices of Chinese products would represent unfair competition for Costa Rica’s domestic producers, the CICR says. EFE

Latin American Herald Tribune