Saturday, 31 October 2020

Fierce Opposition to the Pacific Alliance Continues

Entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Costa Rica are maintaining their position against an eventual incorporation into the commercial block, the Alianza del Pacífico (AP) – Pacific Alliance  – made up of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile.

The sector affirms that it will not allow any renegotiation of the bilateral agreements in force in the Tratados de Libre Comercio (TLC) -Free Trade Agreements – with each of those nations.

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The Pacific Alliance wishes to have 90% of the products from Costa Rica into a free market condition while some agricultural sectors could feel the backlash from exporting along with competitive nations, such as Colombia.

Read more: Costa Rica Yes and No to Pacific Alliance

The matter was more than clear during the debate that followed the paper “Costa Rica should join the Pacific Alliance as soon as possible”, presented in the “Smart Debates” program, promoted by Lead University. The activity was carried out last Thursday (July 19), with the intervention of the panelists Fernando Ocampo, former vice-minister of Foreign Trade (Comex); Juan Rafael Lizano, former Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), as well as experts in international trade Viviana Santamaría and Renzo Céspedes.

Ocampo and Santamaría represented the side in favor of the statement, while Lizano and Céspedes were the voice of the group against.

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Although it is not yet a priority on the agenda, the Ministry of Foreign Trade plans to initiate a consultation process with all the sectors involved, to analyze the positive and negative aspects of an eventual inclusion to the Pacific Alliance and in what way the process should be carried out.

Meanwhile, the agricultural sector has kept its same position ever since discussions began in the country regarding the possibility of being part of the commercial block, which the Costa Rican industrial sector does want to join.

According to those who defend the position of the agriculture sector, ” …Activities such as dairy farming, which today are outside of free trade with members of the PA, would be severely affected by joining the bloc and affirmed that the process to access this group of countries is not a negotiation, but a simple accession, in which all terms are acknowledged and accepted, without prior discussion.”

Nacion.com reports that for Fernando Ocampo, “… negotiation to enter the Alliance must begin, and depending on the conditions that block requests of the country, a decision taken internally. According to the fomrer vice minister, it is possible to carry out an intelligent negotiation and respect the sensitivities that some products have, although he explained that it is only about 50 tariff lines, of the 6,587 that, in general, Costa Rica handles in its foreign trade.”

The current head of the Comex, Dyalá Jiménez, explained that, with respect to the adhesion to the Pacific Alliance, the position of the Government and not only the Comex is that the block goes beyond commercial issues and acknowledged that, therefore, if it involves commitments in sensitive areas.

Jiménez said that starting this past Monday (July 23), for the XIII Cumbre de la Alianza del Pacífico, the Foreign Ministry and the Comex in a meeting of the Alliance, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is not about taking a position and rather to start the inclusion process.

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Costa Rica and Panama are Observer Countries who are now candidates to be part of the Pacific Alliance.

Pacific Alliance summit in February 2014.

Costa Rica’s interest of joining the Pacific Alliance was originally disclosed in 2014, with the signing of an agreement by then president Laura Chinchilla under which Costa Rica will enter the alliance by 2015, but the alleged search of the right timing for the inclusion of the country has caused its delay.

Panama and Guatemala have also expressed interest in becoming members.

The Pacific Alliance, founded in June 2012, was created to build a free trade zone and visa-free travel between the countries. It currently represents 50% of the population and 35% of the GDP of Latin America.

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