The Council of Ministers from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland met, in Geneva, Switzrland, with representatives from Costa Rica, Honduras and Panamá, the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior said Monday.
After the meeting, negotiators officially announced the launch of talks towards a free trade agreement between Central American countries and the European Free Trade Area.
“The negotiation of an FTA with EFTA,¨ said Anabel Gonzalez, Costa Rica´s foreign trade minister, ¨is a complement to the association agreement between Central America and the European Union.¨
Costa Rica could expand its foreign trade platform to some of the most developed in the world, according to Ms. Gonzalez. ¨This treaty would strengthen our relationship
with the European continent,” she said.
In the last decade Costa Rica with the European Free Trade Area trade grew about 168 percent, from $54 million in 2000 to $144.5 million in 2010. The average annual growth rate of exports was 13.7 percent and imports 12.9 percent, said the ministry. Switzerland became the main trading partner among the four countries that make up this bloc, the ministry said.
The goal is to start negotiations in the first quarter of 2012, the announcement said.
“Costa Rica as well as the EFTA countries share a common vision about the role of trade on growth and development and have had to look outside their borders to enhance this development,” said Ronald Saborío, Costa Rica´s ambassador to the World Trade Organization, as quoted by the ministry.
He participated in the Geneva meeting.