In a milestone week for international trade relations, Costa Rica inked free-trade agreements with both China and Singapore. The two pacts are the first trade agreements ever formalized between Costa Rica and Asian nations.
In the next few weeks, the two pending agreements will be voted on by Costa Rica´s Legislative Assembly. If they pass, they will mark the third and fourth free trade agreements approved during the term of Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz. Appointed by President Oscar Arias in 2006, Ruiz was instrumental in sealing the free trade agreement with Panama in 2007 and the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the U.S. (CAFTA) in 2008.
On Monday, Ruiz was in Singapore to officially pen the agreement with S. Iswaran, senior minister of state for trade and industry. According to a press release from the Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX), the free trade agreement will provide increased opportunities for Costa Rica´s productive sectors to distribute their products in the international market and promises to give the country better access to foreign goods and services. Currently, Costa Rica exports more than 60 products to Singapore, a number that is expected to grow once the free-trade agreement passes the Legislature.
On Thursday morning, Ruiz and the Foreign Trade Minister for the People´s Republic of China, Chen Deming, signed the agreement in Beijing. Should the accord pass, 99.6 percent of Cost Rican exports will be allowed to enter the Chinese market.
“We are extremely pleased to sign this free trade agreement with China, our second most important trading partner and which, at this time, is the most thriving and dynamic nation in the world economy,” Ruiz said. “We should make the most of this privileged relationship and not get lost in the fears associated with the size of the Chinese market. This agreement will only bring multiple opportunities and we should focus on enjoying it in the best way possible.”
Both agreements are expected to be brought before the Legislative Assembly in April, just weeks before Ruiz and Arias leave their posts in early May.