San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica and China start third round of free-trade talks

Costa Rica and China moved toward closer bilateral trade relations Monday, as the third round of free-trade talks kicked off outside San José.

In this round, which runs through Wednesday, Costa Rica will likely seek to raise its shield somewhat; enough to allow freer-flowing trade in some sectors but block an onslaught of Chinese goods that could threaten other local sectors such as textiles.

Fernando Ocampo, Costa Rica´s chief negotiator, told reporters a Tico market safeguard has been presented to the Chinese.

Costa Rica has proposed to raise tariffs on products whose import volume exceeds a certain limit. China is studying the proposal.

The Ticos so far have not offered an opening into their textiles, plastics, metals and other markets in which the Eastern giant is interested.

And following the recent lifting of Costa Rica´s more than half-century old telecommunications monopoly, China is expected to press this country to allow its entry into mobile and Internet services, the business weekly El Financiero reported.

Earlier this month, Costa Rica celebrated two years since re-establishing diplomatic relations with China, which the Oscar Arias administration hailed as “one of the best decisions in foreign policy that has been made in this government.”

If an agreement is reached, Costa Rica would become the third Latin American country after Chile and Peru to sign a free-trade pact with China.

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