Craftsman from across the country met in San José this week to formally create the Network of Costa Rican Artisans. The organization will in turn form part of the Regional Network of Central American and Caribbean Artisans.
By working together as a trade organization, the sector hopes “to promote and contribute to the development of artisan firms to raise the competitiveness and living standards of artisans and make inroads into national and international markets.”
The group is particularly looking to influence the nascent negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the European Union as well as benefit from the country’s burgeoning trade relations with China.
Opening the meeting, Economy Vice Minister Eduardo Sibaja stressed the importance of forming industry associations, especially in the context of these growing markets, as “they help us negotiate better.”
He emphasized the importance of quality products, drawing comparisons with the country’s coffee industry. “You have the opportunity to make handicrafts into a big industry.”
The General Administration for the Support of Small and Medium-sized Businesses, the Center for the Promotion of Micro and Small Businesses, and the Economy Ministry are all supporting the endeavor.
According to a press release issued jointly by the government agencies, the craftwork industry involves thousands of people and is of importance to the country economically, culturally and socially.