If free trade agreements these days are like baseball cards or snow globes, then Costa Rica is ready to add another to its collection. Last week, Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González announced the beginning of negotiations for a free trade agreement with Peru.
The proposed multilateral agreement is expected to expand free trade between Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador and Peru. To start the process, the Foreign Trade Ministry has dedicated the month of October to listening to the opinions of the general public, productive sectors, business chambers and associations with respect to trade with Peru.
In a press conference last week, González stressed the simplicity of the process, saying, “Utilizing the experience that we already have, we are basically going to try to have fewer months of negotiation and conclude the process relatively quickly.”
The agreement between Peru and Costa Rica was initially proposed by the South American nation. Because of the significant increase in trade between the two countries over the last decade and Peru’s notable economic growth in general, Costa Rica responded favorably.
Between 2000 and 2009, trade between the two countries more than doubled, rising from $21 million to $58.5 million.
Costa Rica expects the agreement, aside from facilitating more trade between the countries, to serve as a gateway into the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), a 21-member association of Pacific Rim countries whose mission is to expand trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Costa Rica would be the first Central American member.
The principal Costa Rican exports to Peru in 2009 included flat rolled iron and steel, medicines, mineral processing machinery and equipment, and electric sockets and switches. Imports from Peru that same year included animal feed, ceramic plates and tiles, powdered cacao, grapes and publications.
“We think that (the free trade agreement) is a good use of the resources of all the countries involved,” said González.