Tico Times | 26 April 2007
Businesses in Costa Rica Opine on Trade Agreement with European Union
Costa Rican business leaders are being given a chance to opine on an association agreement between Central American and the European Union before these two regions begin negotiating the agreement in Brussels, Belgium, in June.
The idea behind this “internal consulting” period, which began yesterday, is to develop a “solid and articulated national position” on the agreement, which would include a free-trade agreement and increased political cooperation, said President Oscar Arias, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.
“Today we initiate a broad and participatory process of consultation and gathering information from the productive sector and civil society for an agreement that, without a doubt, has the potential to influence the generation of better living conditions for our population,” Arias said, explaining that Roberto Echandi, Costa Rica’s chief negotiator for the agreement, will be listening to “different points of views and positions” during the consultation phase.
The decision to begin negotiating the agreement in June was announced this week at a meeting between representatives of the two regions in Guatemala, according to Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Ministry.
After months of controversy, the Presidents of Central America announced that each country would have its own negotiator for the negotiations, who will take turns selecting the regional representative at each round of talks. That decision was a victory of sorts for President Oscar Arias, who insisted that Costa Rica should have its own negotiator, instead of relying on one regional negotiator (TT, Dec. 26, 2006).
Echandi, who was involved in negotiations for the controversial Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), will head the Costa Rican delegation in Brussels. The negotiation team is also made of Foreign Vice-Minister Edgar Ugalde and Foreign Trade Vice-Minister Amparo Pacheco.