In one of her last acts as president, Laura Chinchilla signed a free trade agreement with Colombia on Monday. Her signature brings Costa Rica one step closer to full membership in the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc of some of the region’s most important economies.
“Costa Rica’s integration into the Pacific Alliance will guarantee that a small nation can stand with a bloc of allied nations with greater relative weight in the global economy, with greater prestige in geopolitical terms in our region, with an economy of scale to promote collective efforts and, above all, to survive in the environment of large alliances that will define the world in the coming years,” Chinchilla said.
In February, Chinchilla traveled to Cartagena, Colombia, to sign an agreement setting Costa Rica on a path to join the Latin America trade bloc made up of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile. The Pacific Alliance accounts for 50 percent of the population in Latin America and represents a market of 212 million.
Chinchilla’s administration pursued free trade agreements, including the Pacific Alliance, during her term from 2010 to 2014. In October 2013, Costa Rica signed a free trade agreement between Central American nations and the European Union.
Colombia was the last remaining alliance country with which Costa Rica did not share a free trade agreement.
Commercial activity between Costa Rica and Colombia grew by 65 percent during the last decade, from $239 million in 2003 to $394 million in 2013, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial. Most goods traded between the countries include food stuffs, medicine and medical supplies, among other goods.
Chinchilla leaves office Thursday, handing over power to President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís, of the Citizen Action Party.