Friday, 11 June 2010

Costa Rica: taking advantage of Trade Agreements

On 9 June the Ministry of Foreign Commerce (Comex) in Costa Rica announced a new structure that aims to take better advantage of trade agreements.

Costa Rica has existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Mexico, Canada, USA, Dominican Republic, the Community of Caribbean States (CARICOM), Chile and Panama. It has also signed FTAs with China and Singapore and has too completed and is expected to negotiate the formal signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union (EU).

Comex’s leader, Anabel Gonzalez, explained that the agreements are only the platform and now they need and must be manage well and get the most profit possible. She explains that once the agreement with the EU, China and Singapore come to effect, 92% of national exports and 77% of imports will remain in the free trade regime.

The new structure, whose leader is Federico Valerio who was the coordinator of negotiations in the area of Intellectual Property (IP), is based on a general direction. From that direction, the Comex has several units: 1.-In the area of geographical regions were created units for North America, Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, South America and the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other multilateral forums. 2.- Units by subject area: monitoring and access for industrial goods, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade and tariff quotas.

In addition, rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation, services and investment dispute settlement and institutional issues, intellectual property and innovation, and government procurement, labour and environmental issues relating to trade, competition and trade protection.

Minister Gonzalez mentioned that there will be coordination between these units. For instance the unit responsible for North America will have consultations on intellectual property, technical barriers, or any subject of another unit.

This is a good move. Certainly, just signing an agreement is not all. After this, and so how to get the best of it is the key question. Surely, by forming teams that know better a specific subject/geographic area is indeed a good start. What I notice is that the leader of the whole structure is quite familiar with the negotiations in IP. Let’s wish that he look after it.

The newspaper note can be read here.

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