All Central America now in a trade deal with México

The Ministerio de Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica announced it has achieved the goal of expanding and modernizing the system of trade between México and Central America.

Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) signed an agreement which establishes the legal framework to meet current trade and production conditions in the area, the ministry said.

“This new agreement creates a legal and economic space that improves the facilitation of trade and the accumulation of origin in the region,¨ said Anabel González, minister of foreign trade. ¨So we continue to facilitate trade, open new opportunities, strengthen existing trade and contribute to the promoting increased trade and investment flow with México.”

According to the ministry, the treaty promotes productive and economic integration among the countries of Central America and Mexico by allowing accumulation of origins, meaning it allows the use of materials originating in member countries of the treaty for the production of a final product.

The Comité de Integración Regional de Insumos was reactivated, under the treaty, to be responsible for determining the best conditions, in terms of origin, of certain textile products, electrical cables and paper bags, in cases where the supply of raw material for México to produce these products is insufficient.

Provisions to market access between Mexico and Costa Rica during times of insufficient supplies included duty-free trading of sugar, yogurt and custard powder, sheet iron, steel, drinks and gelatin powder, as well as vegetable protein hydrolysates, which are used as feedstock in the production process.

Additionally, modernized rules on investment, services, and intellectual property rules were reviewed for the administration of the agreement, in line with existing standards in more recent agreements in order to facilitate its administration, the ministry said. The treaty also included a new chapter on trade facilitation, which provides mechanisms to streamline, simplify and automate customs procedures.

Ms. González and her counterparts in El Salvador, Héctor Miguel Antonio Dada; Honduras, Jose Francisco Zelaya; Nicaragua, Orlando Solorzano; Mexico, Bruno Ferrari; and a deputy minister in Guatemala, Raul Trejo, met in San Salvador to sign the free trade agreement between Central America and Mexico, which established the legal framework.

The isthmus FTA is one of seven open trade fronts, all in different stages, on the ministry’s agenda over the next year. Among these are agreements with the European Union, Peru, Singapore, Canada and the European Free Trade Association. Negotiations with Korea are expected in 2012, as well as entry of Panamá into the Central American economy, according to the ministry.

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