San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican lawmakers approve association agreement with European Union

After several hours of negotiations lawmakers on Tuesday night approved an association agreement between Central America and the European Union (EU), with 37 votes in favor and four against.

The European bloc, formed by 27 countries, is Costa Rica’s second largest trading partner after the United States.

Exports to Europe exceeded $2 billion in 2012, which represented some 18 percent of the country’s total exports.

The most demanded products by European consumers are agricultural goods, mostly bananas, pineapples, coffee, rice, flowers and yuca, followed by shrimp, tuna and textiles.

The regional agreement, already approved by Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala and El Salvador, will enter into effect on Aug. 1.

To be fully adopted in Costa Rica the agreement still requires approval in a second round of voting in the Legislative Assembly, and it must be ratified by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court. It then would be sent to the Central American Integration System.

Once it enters into force, the EU would eliminate 92.1 percent of its tariffs on Central American products.

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