San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Customs Integration Talks Postponed at Summit

Central America’s heads of state came together last week in Belize but didn’t discuss the pressing issue of regional Customs integration.

Despite the fact that the European Union is demanding that Central American countries integrate their Customs systems as part of a regional Association Agreement with the Union, the Central American Presidents put the issue off until their next meeting in Guatemala in June. Central America and the European Union are to begin negotiating an agreement, which is expected to include a free-trade agreement, in Brussels, Belgium, in June.

At the summit last week, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua agreed to begin negotiating a free-trade agreement with 15 Caribbean nations known as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), according to a statement from Costa Rica’s Executive Branch.

Those countries will use Costa Rica’s 2004 free-trade agreement with CARICOM as a basis for negotiations.

President Oscar Arias said in the statement that the commercial agreement helped Costa Rica’s exports with the 15 CARICOM countries quintuple since then.

At the meeting, Central American heads of state and CARICOM representatives signed an agreement to further integrate Central America and CARICOM by promoting regional development and increased political cooperation.


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