COSTA RICA NEWS – A free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – and Costa Rica and Panama will enter into force shortly, after ratification procedures were completed by all parties.
The FTA – covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, competition, the protection of intellectual property, sustainable development, and government procurement – was signed in June 2013. Its entry into force will occur in three stages: on August 19, 2014, in Norway; on August 29, 2014, in Liechtenstein and Switzerland; and on September 5, 2014, in Iceland.
Building on a Joint Declaration on Cooperation signed by the EFTA States and Panama in July 2010, negotiations between EFTA and four Central American States were launched in November 2011 and were concluded with Costa Rica and Panama in December 2012.
Merchandise trade between the EFTA States and Costa Rica and Panama increased at an average annual rate of 6.2% between 2002 and 2012.
In 2012, total merchandise trade between the EFTA States and the two Central American partners was valued at US$ 689 million, with EFTA’s exports to Costa Rica and Panama amounting to US$446 million and imports reaching US$ 237 million. EFTA’s main exports to Costa Rica and Panama include pharmaceutical products as well as clocks and watches, while EFTA’s imports consist essentially of fruits and nuts, coffee and tea, spices and precious stones.
With a combined population of around 13 million, the EFTA States are the world’s 11th largest merchandise trader, as well as significant actors in the areas of trade in services and foreign direct investment.
They have now 26 FTAs with a total of 36 partner countries outside the European Union.
Other members of the Central American Economic Integration System (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua) are welcome to join the pact at a future date.
Sources: Tax-news.com; Efta.int