Renegotiation of Canadian trade agreement begins this week

Technical teams from Costa Rica and Canada, starting this week in Ottawa, begin the first round of negotiations to modernize the free trade agreement between the two countries in force since 2002.

This process will streamline the regulatory part of the agreement and fit current production. The upgrade is intended to provide greater opportunities for exporters and importers.

In 2010, the two countries held exploratory meetings to identify possible areas of interest: e-commerce, financial services, investment, government procurement and market access, among others.

During the official visit to Costa Rica last August, the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and President Laura Chinchilla reaffirmed their interest in deepening commercial ties. Trade ministers of both countries were instructed to launch the process of modernization during this month, with a view to finalizing the framework of the 10th anniversary of entry into the trade agreement.

“When we negotiated this agreement, in 1999,¨ said Federico Valerio, director general of foreign trade ¨the global environment and the country’s conditions were different. Therefore, it is desirable to incorporate new rules and disciplines to better fit our current situation and continue to
open new and better opportunities for Costa Ricans.¨ He heads the Costa Rican delegation. Valerio said that the goal of the negotiations will be to finalize the process next year following four rounds of negotiations.

Meetings will begin with experts in different fields from both countries. This includes six new chapters that were not in the initial agreements in 2001, such as media services and telecommunications. Four chapters of consumer and supplier services will be renegotiated, and a chapter regarding e-commerce will be evaluated on its own, according to Tomas Quesada, an adviser of services for the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior.

Studies of bilateral trade flow showed an increase of 2.6 times, since the passing of the trade agreement between both countries, from $206 million in 2002 to $530 million in 2010, according to statistics from Trade Map.

In the case of Costa Rica, exports to Canada, from the enactment of the treaty, grew by an annual average of 13.2 percent. The fastest growing exports during 2010 include: bananas, sugar cane, electrical conductors, pineapples, prosthetic limbs, tires, coffee, medical instruments and devices, needles, catheters and cannulas for medical use, cotton panties and rubber gaskets.

During last year, 29 Costa Rican companies began exporting to the Canadian market for the first time, according to the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior.

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