Costa Rica and Columbia Negotiate Free Trade Agreement

The presidents of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla and Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, today began negotiations on a free trade agreement (TLC) and announced its intention to sign this year, and an extradition agreement.

The two leaders met today in San Jose during a fleeting visit of President Juan Manuel Santos. Also spoke of the posiblilidad to eliminate visas for Colombians in Costa Rica, the fight against drug trafficking and the protection of the oceans.

Chinchilla said in a press conference that Costa Rica is “the most open economies in Latin America” and has signed trade agreements with “more than 50 countries,” so she ensured that the TLC with Colombia will be beneficial to her nation .

“Costa Rica is a country with experience in foreign trade. Know the trade, how it is done and the consequences. Always defend national interests,” the president of Costa Rica expressed.

Meanwhile, Colombian President said that “nobody likes competition” and said the TLC will open a market to Costa Rica “very important” by 46 million.

“Costa Rica is growing a healthy economy and we are natural partners. We will win all with more jobs and investment,” said Santos.

This trade agreement is the final requirement to enter Costa Rica as a member of Pacific Alliance, composed of Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru, as already has an TLC with all other countries.

“We have a very large growth potential and also this agreement will allow Costa Rica to be a full member of a partnership that has generated much interest worldwide, because it is perhaps the deeper integration of Latin America in its history,” said Santos.

The first round of TLC negotiations will be place in Colombia from July 30 to August 3 and is expected to complete the process this year.

In 2011, Costa Rica exported to Colombia goods valued at 48.2 million dollars, and imported from that country 455.7 million dollars in products, according to the Costa Rican Foreign Trade.

Chinchilla and Santos also announced that the next few months will be done the negotiation of an extradition treaty, they expect to sign this year.

Santos said that a treaty is “standard” that all countries sign and expected to be ready “as soon as possible.”

Costa Rican President also announced that her country will discuss the possibility of eliminating the visa requirement for Colombians, but said that before refining systems must exchange immigration information.

Another issue, which the presidents discussed was the protection of the oceans, especially the fight against “finning” (cutting the fins) of sharks and protecting the Pacific corridor, linking the Cocos Island Costa Rica to the Malpelo Colombia and the Galapagos Islands.

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