San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Presidents of Costa Rica, Brazil strengthen ties

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva yesterday signed 10 cooperation agreements between both countries including one on bio-fuels, according to a statement by Casa Presidencial.

Arias met with Lula for fifty minutes at the presidential palace in the capital city of Brasilia. Arias described the meeting as “friendly” and personally invited Lula to visit Costa Rica.

“We coincide on several fronts,” Arias said. “We are united, above all, by being Latinos. We are united by our vocation for happiness and fun, for soccer and dance, for music and song. We are united by the Latin American challenge, the challenge to achieve greater development for our inhabitants, a worthier life under the sun.”

The biofuels initiative calls and increase in the amount of land used to grow cassava and genip ( mamón ), both of which are considered good for bio-fuels. Said agreement will be implemented by the Brazilian Agricultural Production Enterprise (EMPRAPA) and Costa Rica´s National Agricultural Innovation and Technology Transfer Institute (INTA). Brazilian officials will provide their Costa Rican counterparts with technical assistance on how to plant the crops and transform them into fuels.

The presidents discussed the possibility of fostering closer trade ties between the Central American Economic Integration System (SICA) countries, of which Costa Rica is one, and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), of which Brazil is a member.

The two presidents agreed to hold a technical meeting on how to promote bilateral trade between Costa Rica and Brazil in September.

Costa Rica imports substantially more from Brazil than it exports there. Last year, it imported $419.5 million in goods from Brazil and exported just $24.7 million.

Both presidents expressed their disappointment at the collapse of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations earlier in the week. “It is said that developed countries did not assume the commitment to open their markets in agriculture,” Arias said.

Arias´s visit to Brazil continues today in Sao Paulo, Brazil´s financial and industrial center. There he will meet with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994-1998) and with the Brazilian Industrial Confederation.

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