Harper’s visit results in tax, trade and airline accords

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was greeted by students with Costa Rican and Canadian flags when he visited Casa Presdiencial Thursday. Photo: Casa Presidencia

The government of Canada will open a consulate in Costa Rica to provide visas to Costa Ricans who want to travel north. That was one of the developments that came Thursday from an official visit by Stephen Harper, the Canadian prime minister.

At present Costa Ricans have to send their documents to Guatemala to obtain a visa.

Harper also agreed with President Laura Chinchilla that the free trade treaty between the two countries would be renegotiated. That treaty went into effect in 2002, and the subsequent free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American countries included aspects that Canadians would like to see in their agreement.

This includes the opening of some former state monopolies.

For its part, Costa Rica would like to see more direct investment from Canada. The renegotiation will begin in November, officials said.

During Harper’s visit officials also announced that Canada
would donate $5.2 million toward a $10 million program to increase training for police officers. Harper toured the Escuela de Policía of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police also will provide some training, said Casa Presidencial. The police school that Harper visited is in Barrio El Socorro de Santo Domingo in Heredia.

The two countries also approved an open skies agreement in which airlines from either country can operate at whatever frequence in the other.

The countries also entered into an agreement to exchange tax information including tax payments, investigations and prosecutions.

Tourism officials said that last year the country received 120,000 tourists from Canada, an increase of 18,000 over 2009. They said that the open skies agreement would increase tourism.

Costa Rica has had a similar agreement with the United States for 30 years.

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