San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica could strike free-trade deal with China by Wednesday

The Chinese Vice Minister of Trade Yi Xioazhun said he has a special wish for the Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated Saturday, Feb. 14.

“I think the signing of a Free-Trade Agreement with Costa Rica would be the best New Year´s gift for all of us.”

If negotiations go according to plan this week, Xioazhun should get his wish, as trade officials from China and Costa Rica sat down on Monday morning at the Palacio San José hotel in La Uruca, northwest of San José, to iron out the final details in the pending free-trade agreement between the two countries. Each side is hopeful they will complete the sixth and final round of talks on Wednesday.

“We are convinced that free-trade agreements are key for achieving better well-being and further development of the country,” said Marco Vinicio Ruiz, the Costa Rican foreign trade minister. “We hope that during these three days, we will be able to accomplish the necessary advances through open dialogue in order to complete this agreement by Wednesday.”

Ruiz explained that trade talks this week will focus on amount of access and lowered tariffs each country will offer for specific products. He said representatives of the two countries will work to reach an agreement that achieves the “largest possible percentage” of products included in the agreement and made available for trade.

Talks will also aim to finalize sanitary regulations for products traded between the two countries, standards on intellectual property rights and specific rules of origin attached to each product.

If the free-trade agreement is finalized on Wednesday, the bill to pass the accord will be sent on to the Legislative Assembly for ratification in the upcoming months. The China free-trade agreement would be the second accord inked in 2010, as a free-trade agreement was finalized with Singapore in January.

See the Feb. 12 print or digital edition of The Tico Times for more on this story.

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