Costa Rican officials involved in the European Union and Central American negotiations see the latest round of talks in Brussels as “positive.”
So far members from Central American nations, including Costa Rica, have participated in five different negotiation rounds where details regarding what products each country wants to export and the conditions for those transactions.
“We have reached very satisfactory conditions during these negotiations within the agricultural sector,” said Gloria Abraham, chief negotiator representing Costa Rica’s agricultural ministry.
About 70 percent of goods exported to Europe from Central America come from Costa Rica, and more than 80 percent of those products are agricultural. About 1.3 percent come from the seafood industry and 0.1 percent from the cattle industry.
Costa Rica currently exports approximately $560 million to Europe and imports about $62 million.
Abraham said the negotiations are in their final phase. About 95 percent of the discussions on tariffs for agricultural are for the most part set, Abraham said.
“This is guaranteeing us a significant access to the European market with our products,” said Abraham.
According to Abraham, there are items sensitive for the Europeans as well as items that Costa Ricans will not budge on.
“We think that bananas and sugar should have preferential access conditions to the European market,” Abraham said.
Abraham said all parties in these negotiations are trying to find common ground.
“On this phase of the process, there’s an increased pressure from all of the parties to achieve the most possible and minimize the cost,” he said.
The next and “most complex” phase of the negotiation process, he said, will be held in Honduras on Jan. 30.
–Vanessa I. Garnica