Officials from Costa Rica and Colombia on Monday began a fourth round of free-trade negotiations that are expected to address the most sensitive issues of market access, officials said.
“We enter the final stage of a negotiation that seeks to achieve a balance between our offensive and defensive interests,” Costa Rican Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González said in San José, where talks are taking place.
She said that in a previous round of talks officials closed 41 chapters in access to markets and 70 chapters on specific rules, among which are those applied to meat, fruits, vegetables, coffee, milk, cereals, pharmaceuticals and aluminum products.
However, rules remain unresolved for access to a number of industrial products that Costa Rica asked to exclude from the treaty, arguing they would be at a disadvantage position against Colombian products.
The list includes plastic, chemicals, textiles, electronics, leather, footwear, paper and cardboard.
“Negotiations with Colombia are a natural step for Costa Rica, which would increase our presence in this market and promote the creation of larger and stronger trade links in South America, beyond those we already have with Chile and Perú,” González said.
The treaty also “opens the opportunity for Costa Rica to become a full member of the Pacific Alliance, which will strengthen the bonds with major Latin American economies such as Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia,” she added.
In 2011, Costa Rica exported to Colombia $48 million in goods and services and imported $455 million. Officials hope that the signing of the treaty will enhance opportunities for domestic producers in a market of 46 million people with a higher purchasing power.