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Canada, Costa Rica Look At Improving FTA

Inside Costa Rica

Canada, Costa Rica Look At Improving FTA

By Mike Godfrey,, Washington

12 November 2011

Negotiations have begun between Canada and Costa Rica on the proposed modernization of their existing free trade agreement (FTA), it has been announced.

The first round of talks began on November 8 in Ottawa and are set to conclude on November 10, the Canadian government has said. The current FTA entered into force in 2002, and focuses largely on trade in goods. It is hoped that an expanded treaty will deepen market access in services and government procurement. It will also be improved to cover e-commerce, telecommunications, investment and technical barriers to trade.

Costa Rica is Canada’s largest trading partner in Central America, accounting for 31% of Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with the region in 2010. The intention to update the FTA was announced earlier this year, when in August members of the Canadian government travelled to Costa Rica on a working visit. It was also during that trip that the two countries signed a tax information exchange agreement and an air transportation agreement.

Commenting on the launch of the negotiations, Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, said: “I travelled to Costa Rica with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in August, where he announced Canada’s commitment to further strengthening our economic ties with Costa Rica. We are acting on this commitment today by launching negotiations that will create jobs for workers and generate prosperity for families both in Canada and in Costa Rica—a key objective of Canada’s engagement in the Americas.”

“With one in five jobs and more than 60% of Canada’s economy generated by trade, our government’s focus is on creating jobs and opportunity for hard-working Canadian families. An improved free trade agreement with Costa Rica will create new opportunities for Canadian businesses in many sectors, including agriculture, construction, financial services, government procurement, manufacturing and telecommunications”, Fast added.

Canada has concluded trade agreements with eight countries in the Americas and is actively pursuing additional trade relationships in the region. In June, Fast announced the formal launch of exploratory talks between Canada and South America’s largest common market, Mercosur, whose members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. These countries represent a market of nearly 250m consumers and account for almost three quarters of all economic activity in South America, making a deal potentially very lucrative for Canada.