China Proves Tough Negotiator for Costa Rica

April 24, 2009

During the second round of free-trade negotiations last week, China’s negotiating team discussed allowing 94 percent of Costa Rican goods to access the Chinese market, but left out key products such as coffee, sugar, beef, pork and chicken.

Chief negotiator for Costa Rica, Fernando Ocampo, said his team will continue to negotiate for these products in upcoming rounds, and sees initial resistance as part of the Chinese team’s strategy.

“This is part of a negotiation process,” Ocampo told reporters via a videoconference from Shanghai last week on the final day of this round of talks.

Other issues on the table included customs proceedings, trade accessibility, intellectual property and technical obstacles to trade.

“Costa Rica is also interested in environmental services (such as protection of biodiversity),” said Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz. “We need to further study this issue so that both sides come to an understanding.”

Ocampo said that his delegation informed the Chinese about the nation’s interest in technology, research and development.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Agriculture Minister Javier Flores reached an agreement on sanitary measures with his Chinese counterpart for Costa Rica to export leather to China.

“This is excellent news for an important sector of our economy. We are allowed to export these products to China without any problem,” said Flores in a statement.

In addition, goods, such as certain electronics, produced in zona francas, or taxfree zones will receive preferential rates, Ocampo said.

Costa Rica exported $1.4 billion worth of goods to China in 2007, a 30 percent increase over 2006. Most of these exports, about $1 billion worth, came from Costa Rica’s Intel factory (TT, Jan. 25, 2008).

Also, 54 percent of goods exported to China in 2007 were manufactured in zona francas.

To coincide with the latest round of negotiations, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) arranged a visit to China last week by some tico companies such as Dos Pinos, NavCafé, El Arreo and Coopemontecillos, both meat product companies.

The group visited a market visited by over 200,000 people daily in the city of Yiwu, some 200 km southwest of Shanghai. PROCOMER has a permanent display at this market where some Costa Rican products such as coffee, beer, tea, juices, liquors and cereals are displayed for the public.

The global coffee company Navcafé, which has coffee plantations in the Tarrazú region, south of the capital, presently roasts some of its beans in Germany, where its coffee is distributed. Last November, Manuel Dinarte, promotion director for Navcafé, spoke about the company’s interest in exporting to China.

“We are sure that these and many other companies could benefit from the opening of the Chinese market,” Ruiz said last week.

The next round of negotiations will take place in Costa Rica in June.

Vanessa I. Garnica

vgarnica@ticotimes.net

 

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