The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, on Wednesday urged Costa Rica to ratify an Association Agreement that Central American nations signed last June with the European Union.
“The European Parliament has already ratified the Association Agreement with the region, and our hope is for it to enter into force as soon as possible,” Schulz said in a press conference on Wednesday, after arriving in Costa Rica from Mexico.
Accompanied by Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, Schulz spoke to reporters after meeting with President Laura Chinchilla.
“I am a lawmaker too. I know lawmakers need time, (…) but the Association Agreement is a very important project, and you should do your best effort to ratify it as soon as possible,” Schulz said.
Chinchilla said in a press release that Schulz’s visit shows the commitment of Europeans with the implementation of the agreement. “They [Chinchilla and Schulz] addressed various issues including foreign trade, regional integration and the fight against drugs,” minister Castillo told members of the media.
The Association Agreement was signed in June in Honduras, after five years of intense negotiations. It aims to improve political dialogue, cooperation and mostly trade, as it would open 69 percent of existing trade in manufactured and agricultural goods and fisheries products with the EU.
The population of the European Union totals 500 million people, while Central America has some 45 million residents. Both regions traded goods totaling nearly 8 billion euros in 2011, according to figures from the European Commission, which predicts a growth in trade of 25-30 percent once the agreement enters into force.