Small and medium firms to get help to export goods to Europe

Commerce officials said Wednesday that they would make changes to help small- and medium-sized enterprises sell their products to the European Union.

The new program is designed to simplify rules, identify businesses with international potential and improving quality.

While this program specifically deals with Costa Rica’s commercial relationship with the European Union, it is part of an inter-ministry effort to strengthen Costa Rica’s businesses nationally and internationally. The Ministerio de Economía, Industría y Comercio is the lead agency.

“The inclusion of smaller productive entities will permit the democratization of economic processes,” said Luis Álvarez, a vice-minister, after he spoke at a conference outlining the program.

Álvarez said that small- and medium-sized businesses account for 98 percent of all of Costa Rica’s commercial institutions and employ 52 percent of workers in the private sector.
Álvarez listed three components of the plan. One piece is to compile all of the trade rules and regulations of both the European Union and Costa Rica in one platform. Secondly, ministry employees working on the project will study Costa Rica’s regulations and inspection organizations to ease international trade for these businesses.

The third key part of the program is to identify industries that have potential to export products and to locate businesses in those sectors. In a Powerpoint presentation, ministry officials specifically mentioned the food, metallurgy, natural products and medical tourism industries as possible candidates.
From these sectors, the ministry will select businesses to be a part of the pilot program.

The program is geared towards businesses that already have the wherewithal to export their products. Officials did not mention plans to provide these businesses with financial assistance.

More than 100 people attended the conference where the ministry unveiled that plan. The majority of those people were government employees and interested persons who stayed for speeches from experts in the field to hear more specific details about the program, according to a ministry spokesperson.

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