Costa Rica negotiates Free Trade Agreement with EU - by John K
Representatives from Central America (CA) and the European Union (EU) met yesterday, March 17th, to negotiate new trade policy. The meeting is a preliminary part of the Association Agreement between the EU and the six countries that make up the Central American isthmus (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama). One of the key elements being proposed by the Central American committee is the lowering of tariffs imposed on certain agricultural products to allow for more competitive trade. The CA representatives are requesting that fruit, flowers, plants and most agricultural products are allowed to enter the EU tax free. Another part of the proposal is that preferential treatment is given to dairy products and pork meat and derivatives. Preferential treatment in this case means that these products will be not be allowed to enter the EU market entirely tax free, but they will have a pre-established quota.
In 2003, the market made up of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua accounted for 0.4% of EU exports and was the source of 0.3% of EU imports. This may not seem like much right now and that is exactly what the Association Agreement wants to change. The EU offers a large and wealthy market for our agricultural products like banana, melon, pineapple, flowers, ornamental plants, fruit juices and concentrates, and hearts of palm.