Business sectors invited to comment on Colombian trade pact

As negotiations between Costa Rica and Colombia continue and come closer to a final set of agreements, the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior will hold forums over six days to hear comments and concerns from interested parties. The sessions start Sept. 5.

The ministry will devote one hour periods to specific products, goods and services, during which time members of that industry will be able to formally explain how the treaty will effect their businesses and what would be best for the industry.

“The idea of these meetings is to take into account priorities and interests,” said Carlos Umaña, a consultant to the ministry. “It’s to listen to the sector.”

Sofia Castresana, a ministry press officer, explained that this is a normal part of the process for each treaty that Costa Rica develops with other nations regarding international commerce.
“With every trade agreement, we call all of the different sectors and get their feelings,” said Ms. Castresana. “It’s not unusual.”

The free trade treaty with Colombia has already generated controversy over certain products. For example, the chamber representing the Costa Rica food industry criticized the ministry late last month for excluding sugar from the treaty in the first round of negotiations.

Discussions on the food industry alone will take up three days of the forums ranging from topics as specific as sugar, coffee and beef as well as more general topics like glass, plastic and metal products.

Similar to when U.S. administrative agencies call for public comment when they are changing rules, members of the industry can go to the forums to explain how a particular good or product is relevant to them and why that product should or should not be included in the treaty. The forums or consultations will conclude Sept. 13. Each day the forums will run from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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