Costa Rica became the second Central American country to enter a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea, that will give immediate access without tariffs to 80% of Costa Rican products.
The FTA – Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) in Spanish – approved by the Costa Rican Congress on March 5, was signed on Monday by President Carlos Alvarado and Foreign Trade Minister, Dyalá Jiménez Figueres, and will come into effect when South Korea finishes some internal procedures.
“This treaty is part of the country’s strategy to seek closer relations with the Asia-Pacific region, and it is also a tool to promote greater exports, investment, and cooperation, and deepening our commercial relationship with South Korea, an economy that is a world leader in innovation,” said Alvarado.
The signing at Casa Presidencial in Zapote was attended by the South Korean ambassador in Costa Rica, Chan-sik Yoon, who highlighted the long-standing ties of friendship and the opportunities that the trade agreement opens for businessmen and consumers in both countries.
Costa Rican products such as coffee, sugar, non-alcoholic beverages, medical devices, medicines, plastic, iron and glass manufactures, articles and prosthetic devices, among others, will have free immediate trade.
Other goods such as bananas, frozen pork and beef, fresh cassava (yuca), pineapple and fruit juices are placed in different term rebate programs.
Sixty-eight percent of Korean products, mainly industrial products, will enjoy immediate free trade, while 27% will be subject to tariff reduction periods. 5% was excluded.
For example, products with immediate free trade are the vehicles parts, medicines, cosmetics and certain electronic, electrical and textile products.
The free trade deal also includes a chapter on investment, through which Costa Rica hopes to attract Korean companies dedicated to high technology, research, innovation and industry in general.
Official data indicate Costa Rica indicate in 2017 exported to South Korea US$37.6 million dollars and imported US$232.2 million dollars.
This is the fifteenth FTA signed by Costa Rica after those signed with Chile, China, Singapore, Central America, the United States, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Panama, the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the European Union and the European Free Trade Association.
The FTA with South Korea was negotiated jointly by five countries of Central America: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama, while Guatemala decided to do so bilaterally.