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Costa Rica sets date for trade talks with Singapore

February 13, 2009

Costa Rica and Singapore will begin negotiations in mid-April on a free-trade agreement, a key piece of President Oscar Arias´ plan to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties with Asia.

A team from the Foreign Trade Ministry will visit Singapore April 20 to 22, after the second round of trade talks with China April 14 to 17, the ministry announced Thursday in a press release.

Arias, an avid free-trader, has led Costa Rica into free-trade pacts with the United States and Panama, and the country is expended to sign an agreement between Central America and the European Union early next year. Arias recently told the weekly newspaper El Financiero he also hopes to pursue free-trade deals with India and South Korea.

A tiny and densely populated city-state with a largely ethnic Chinese citizenry, Singapore has a per capita income of more than seven times Costa Rica´s. Manufacturing and services are the main engines of Singapore´s powerhouse economy, according to the U.S. State Department Web site.

Arias announced plans to negotiate a free trade deal with Singapore during a visit there last December. Costa Rica´s exports to Singapore last year totaled $31.5 million, while imports totaled $26.4 million.

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