Costa Rica closes free-trade deal with China

February 5, 2010

Costa Rican coffee would enter China’s market tariff-free as part of a host of deals reached Wednesday at the close of the sixth and final round of the Costa Rica-China Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, provided the agreement is approved by Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly. The accord is slated to be presented to the assembly in April.

Fifty-eight percent of Costa Rican products already being exported to China, such as certain fruit juices, would begin entering the Asian giant’s market without tariffs immediately upon the FTA’s approval. Coffee is among a variety of other goods that would begin an incremental 10-year progression toward free-trade, reaching 94 percent of Tico-made goods flowing into China by 2020.
 
Sugar, an old hallmark of the Costa Rican economy, was left out of the deal despite the best efforts for the Ticos to get it in, Fernando Ocampo, Costa Rica’s chief negotiator, told reporters on Wednesday at the San José Palacio in La Uruca, in the northwestern area of the capital.
 
Microprocessor chips produced by the computer company Intel are Costa Rica’s biggest export to China.
 
China, the world’s biggest exporter, offered 99.6 percent of its market up for free trade.
 
Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz said the Costa Rican sectors should be “satisfied” with the outcome of the FTA.
 
“This agreement is a milestone for Costa Rican commercial policy,” said Ruiz.
 
However, the Costa Rican Industrial Chamber, a staunch critic throughout the negotiations process, swiftly issued a statement saying the treaty is not satisfactory.
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