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China proves tough negotiator for Costa Rica

April 17, 2009

During the second round of free trade negotiations last week, China´s negotiating team discussed allowing 94 percent of Costa Rican goods to access the Chinese market, but left out key products such as coffee, sugar, beef, pork and chicken.

Chief negotiator for Costa Rica, Fernando Ocampo, said his team will continue to negotiate for these products in upcoming rounds, and sees initial resistance as part of the Chinese team´s strategy.

“This is part of a negotiation process,” Ocampo told reporters via a videoconference from Shanghai Friday (Thursday evening in Costa Rica), the final day of this round of talks.

Other issues on the table included customs proceedings, trade accessibility, intellectual property and technical obstacles to trade.

“Costa Rica is also interested in environmental services (such as protection of biodiversity),” said Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz. “We need to further study this issue so that both sides come to an understanding.”

The Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) and the Agricultural Ministry representatives were present at the negotiations this past week.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Agriculture Minister Javier Flores reached an agreement on sanitary measures with his Chinese counterpart for Costa Rica to export leather to China.

“This is excellent news for an important sector of our economy. We are allowed to export these products to China without any problem,” said Flores in a statement.

In addition, goods produced in free zones, such as certain electronics, will receive preferential rates, Ocampo said.

Costa Rica exported $1.4 billion worth of goods to China in 2007, a 30 percent increase over 2006. Most of exports, about $1 billion worth, came from Costa Rica´s Intel factory (TT, Jan 25, 2008). Also, 54 percent of exported goods in 2007 were manufactured in free zones.

The next round of negotiations will take place in Costa Rica in June.

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