Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that the governments of Colombia and Costa Rica signed a treaty signaling the first step toward a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations.
In a meeting in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose this morning, Santos noted that annual trade between the two nations had grown from $100 million to $500 million in the last decade alone.
“The growth potential is very large because they are, in many ways, complementary economies. And what these accords bring to the people, both Costa Rican and Colombian, is greater well-being and employment,” affirmed the president.
Costa Rica currently has free trade agreements with Panama, Mexico, and Chile, and is currently seeking one with Peru. It hopes that a treaty with Colombia will facilitate its entrance into the recently created Alliance of the Pacific, a trade organization composed of Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
Santos echoed this claiming, “We are very interested in this FTA that will additionally permit Costa Rica to be a full member of the Alliance of the Pacific.”
In addition to economic matters, both leaders, accompanied by their secretaries and ministers of business, environment and security, discussed such bilateral interests as the fight against drug trafficking and the environmental of the two oceans that touch both of their shores.
“If there is a country that has distinguished itself in its respect for the environment, for its environmental policies, it is Costa Rica. As the president told me in our meeting, our policy is green, and now we want to make it blue, to give more importance to the seas, to the oceans,” stated Santos.
Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla additionally signaled her desire to eliminate visas for Colombians entering Costa Rica. She hopes to finalise the details of the FTA before the end of the year.
In a meeting with the Board of Foreign Trade held Thursday, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Tourism, Sergio Diaz-Granados announced that Colombia is close to finalizing free trade agreements with South Korea and the European Union, as well as a partial trade agreement with Venezuela.
Critics have opposed nations’ willingness to sign FTAs with Colombia, due to its poor human and labor rights record.