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Colombia, Costa Rica in 4th round of free trade talks this week

February 5th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The 4th round of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Costa Rica and Colombia began yesterday and will continue until Friday. The talks are taking place in Costa Rica, and will focus on tariff reduction in goods and the definition of mechanisms that facilitate and promote trade in services and investment between the two countries.

Colombian exports to Costa Rica reached USD $253.7 million between January and November 2012.

“The FTA with Costa Rica is a natural and fundamental step in strengthening our trade relations with Central America, which complements the provisions of our agreement with the countries of the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras).

Through this FTA, we can provide better conditions and guarantees to investors of both nations, as well as facilitate market access to Costa Rica, the fifth most affluent market in Latin America.

Undoubtedly, this will allow us to expand and diversify our exports and investments, especially in industrial goods. It will also allow us to advance on our path to prosperity and job creation,” said the Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry, and Tourism, Diaz-Granados.

The Minister stressed that the FTA with Costa Rica is critical to Colombia because it is one of the most dynamic and stable economies in Latin America. Moreover, he highlighted the strong cultural, commercial, and diplomatic ties that Colombia enjoys with this country.

Colombia’s chief negotiator, Javier Gamboa, said that during the fourth round, the negotiating teams would focus on issues of market access to agricultural and industrial goods, financial services, investment, and more.

The three prior rounds, which were held in Bogota and San Jose, closed 18 of the 22 chapters of the Agreement. This means that significant advances are expected in this upcoming round, in the area of regulatory aspects of the agreement.

Along with the preamble, the chapters that have been completed include Initial Provisions, Transparency, Rules of Origin and Procedures Related to Origin, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards, Trade Facilitation and Customs Procedures, Trade Defense, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters, Procurement, Cross-border Services, Investment, Intellectual Property, Competition, Electronic Commerce, Temporary Entry of Business Persons, Telecommunications, Dispute Resolution, Management of the Agreement, Final Provisions and Exceptions.

In the last ten years, bilateral trade between Colombia and Costa Rica has tripled. In 2001 imports and exports totaled USD $135 million. In 2011, however, this amounted to USD $435 million. Investment flows between the two countries have also grown rapidly, from USD $8.3 million in 2001 to USD 150 million in 2011. In fact, Costa Rica became Colombia’s fourth largest investor in 2011.

Originally based on press release.

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