San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Pact Takes Effect With Trinidad and Tobago

THE free-trade agreement betweenCosta Rica and the CaribbeanCommunity (CARICOM) officially tookeffect Nov. 15 between Costa Rica andTrinidad and Tobago, the first two countriesto exchange the letters of ratificationthat signal the beginning of theagreement.Costa Rican Trade Minister ManuelGonzález met with his counterpart fromTrinidad and Tobago, Kenneth Valley, inthe island city of Puerto de España forthe event.The trade agreement was been signedby 12 CARICOM countries, includingJamaica, Barbados and Belize. Barbadosis the only other nation to have ratifiedthe pact, but it has put off its entranceinto the agreement until Jan. 1, 2006.Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly ratifiedthe agreement Sept. 19 (TT, Sept.23).Costa Rica is the first CentralAmerican country to enter into a freetradeagreement with CARICOM, whichrepresents a market of 15 million potentialconsumers and 5 million annual tourists;it is the second nation in the world to doso, following the Dominican Republic,according to a Foreign Trade Ministrystatement.Costa Rican exports to CARICOMnations rose to nearly $75 million in2004; it exported $16.4 million toTrinidad and Tobago. In the first ninemonths of 2005, Costa Rican exports toTrinidad and Tobago have alreadyreached $15 million, representing a 21%increase over the same period in 2004.Costa Rica’s principal exports toTrinidad and Tobago are food preparations,medications, plastic lids, domesticrefrigerators, fungicides and cookies, allof which will now have free access to theCaribbean nation’s market.Costa Rica imported $20 millionworth of goods from CARICOM in2004, mostly from Trinidad and Tobago.In the first nine months of this year,Costa Rica has imported $5 million ingoods from Trinidad and Tobago, primarilynatural gas.

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