Costa Rica News – On Monday night, members of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica approved the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia during the initial round of debate. This agreement is a prerequisite for Costa Rica to gain admittance into the Pacific Alliance group, composed of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
The text of the FTA now moves to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (or Sala IV) where it must be approved before being sent back to the legislature for a second reading. Both countries initially signed the treaty on May 23 of last year after relatively quick negotiations between July 30, 2012, and March 6, 2013.
During negotiations, certain sectors of Costa Rica’s economy, such as industrial and agriculture groups, raised concerns about the aggressive opening of trade with Colombia. In the end, the FTA was signed with only 70 percent of the tariff items approved within the agreement and with exclusions.
Juan Rafael Lizano, president of the National Chamber of Agriculture and Agribusiness (CNAA), said he has no problem with the FTA, but expressed doubts about the eventual entry into the Pacific Alliance. Mónica Segnini, president of the Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica (Cadexco), described both the FTA and entrance into the Pacific Alliance as a positive, but stressed the need to build strong internal competition.