SAN JOSE – Costa Rica hopes to move closer to – and increase its trade with – Asia with the approval of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea encompassing 80 percent of the Central American country’s products.
“We hail with great enthusiasm the approval ... of the (South) Korea-Central America FTA. A great day for the foreign trade sector,” said Foreign Trade Minister Dyala Jimenez on the social networks.
The FTA was approved by the Costa Rican Congress on Tuesday evening during the second and definitive legislative debate with just one lawmaker voting against it. To enter into force, it now requires only the signature of President Carlos Alvarado.
With the pact, Costa Rica is hoping to expand its trade relationship with the Asian market, given that this treaty now joins FTAs that the country already has with China and Singapore.
The Foreign Trade Ministry said on Wednesday in a statement that the FTA with Seoul stipulates that 80 percent of Costa Rica’s products will immediately enjoy zero tariffs in the South Korean market, 16 percent will receive gradual tariff relief and 4 percent will be excluded from the pact.
Products such as coffee, sugar, non-alcoholic beverages, medical devices, medications, plastic items, iron and glass and prosthetic items, among others, will be freed from import tariffs immediately.
Other products such as bananas, frozen pork and beef, fresh cassava, pineapples and fruit juices will be subject to tariffs that will be gradually reduced over time.
“This agreement will serve as a tool to promote greater exports, investment and cooperation between the parties, thereby achieving a deepening of our trade relationship with an economy that is a world leader in innovation,” said the ministry.
In addition, 77 percent of South Korean products, mainly industrial goods, will enjoy zero tariffs starting immediately, while 21 percent will have their tariffs gradually reduced and 2 percent were excluded.
Vehicle parts, medications, cosmetics and certain electronic, electric and textile products will be able to enter Costa Rica free of tariffs.
Excluded from the pact will be South Korean products such as certain types of tires, iron and steel products and plastic products.
In the service sector, the FTA includes a regulatory framework that promotes and improves access for Costa Rican service exports to the Asian nation’s market, the ministry said.
Costa Rica emphasized that South Korea is opening up opportunities for the export sector given that it is a net importer of food and agricultural products, is recognized for its global leadership in innovation and for its ability to incorporate digital technology into its products and manufacturing processes.
Official Costa Rican figures indicate that in 2017 the country exported $37.6 million worth of goods to South Korea and imported goods worth $232.2 million from the Asian nation.