The Legislative Assembly approved a bill in second debate Tuesday that builds on Costa Rica’s recently approved free trade agreement with the European Union.
The agreement eliminates tariffs on goods between the coffee-growing country and the European Free Trade Association, a group of non-European Union countries including Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
“This agreement with [European Free Trade Association] countries, with whom we share the vision of integrating international markets, will permit the diversification of our export offerings and foment foreign direct investment in our country,” said Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González, according to a statement.
Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmaker Jeanette Ruiz said that Costa Rica’s agricultural sector would be the greatest beneficiary of the agreement, especially coffee, bananas, pineapple and palm oil. Besides perishable goods Costa Rica also hopes to export medical instruments and attract foreign direct investment from the non-EU countries, which reached $141 million during the last five years.
On May 21, 2013, Costa Rica approved the association agreement between Central America and the European Union, the country’s second largest trading partner after the United States.
Expanding free trade agreements has been a top priority of President Laura Chinchilla, who leaves office on May 8. Besides dropping tariffs with European trading partners, Chinchilla traveled to Colombia in February to announce that Costa Rica would take steps to become a full member of the Pacific Alliance, a trade block of major Latin American economies made up of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
PAC presidential candidate Luis Guillermo Solís, favored to win Costa Rica’s runoff election on April 6 after National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya suspended his campaign, has said that he does not plan to open new free trade agreements if he wins the election.