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Jamaica, Costa Rica Attempt To Move Trade Deal

by Amanda Banks,, London

19 August 2011

Jamaica and Costa Rica are attempting to press forward with the formal implementation of a seven-year-old-free trade agreement (FTA), and have held talks designed to move the process along.

The FTA was signed in 2004 between Costa Rica and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Thus far, only Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados have completed their ratification processes. However, while the treaty is not yet fully in force in Jamaica, it has been applied provisionally, following a 2006 Cabinet decision to approve its implementation. Jamaica is in the process of amending legislation to secure its formal implementation.

Jamaican and Costa Rican representatives held a series of meetings on August 9 to discuss Jamaica's action on the FTA, led by Costa Rica's Minister of Foreign Trade, Anabel Gonzalez, and the Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh. The talks included discussions on issues related to trade and other areas of bilateral cooperation, and focus was also placed on business opportunities, providing an opportunity for face-to-face interaction and the establishment of contacts between entrepreneurs from both countries.

Jamaica is Costa Rica’s second most important market in the Caribbean; imports of Costa Rican goods were worth USD52.8m in 2010. However, Jamaica only exported USD514,000 worth of goods to Costa Rica in 2010, including re-exports (value-added goods) totalling USD211,415. In contrast, according to Gonzalez, since Trinidad and Tobago's implementation of the agreement, its trade with Costa Rica has increased annually at 48%.

Speaking to representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Jamaica Promotion Agency (JAMPRO), the Costa Rican Export Promotion Agency (PROCOMER) and the Costa Rican and Jamaican private sectors, Gonzalez said that the FTA is aimed at increasing and diversifying trade in goods. She explained that it also provides for negotiations on competition policy, government procurement, double taxation and services, and a legal framework which encourages transparency and deals with trade disputes.

Baugh added that Jamaica is seeking to penetrate the Costa Rican market, and anticipates a more balanced trading relationship with the full implementation of the agreement. He said: “We have to plan carefully, with some measure of protection for our sensitive domestic sectors, even while we co-operate”.

TAGS: business | free trade agreement (FTA) | Jamaica | Trinidad and Tobago | Costa Rica | Guyana | trade | Barbados

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