The signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Costa Rica and China was received by the productive sectors with optimism; however, after almost 5 year, the dynamism of the second largest economy in the world did not represent a significant growth in sales.
Karina Lopez, coordinator of Market Research at Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER) explained that among the difficulties to export there is logistics, due to the expensive and little services offers, making the access to perishable products very difficult. In addition, the process to adjust packaging, flavors and sizes in order to make the products suitable for the Chinese market involves a high investment.
PROCOMER noted that the companies can export to China under favorable tariff conditions and import raw materials at a preferential tariff, which increases the profitability of this international business.
Costa Rica has worked hard to diversify its exports to China offering a variety of products such as leather, orange pulp, bananas, beef and dairy products, among many others. Currently the work is focused on meeting the required permits.
The executive director of Costa Rica’s Chamber of Commerce, Alonso Elizondo, said that the expectations have not been met, but in imports, a lot of duty free products are now in the Costa Rican market, which benefit the final consumer.
Former Minister of Foreign Trade and Ambassador of Costa Rica in China Marco Vinicio Ruiz, listed some of the works that China has also sponsored: the National Stadium and the National Police Academy (in work), two aircrafts for the Ministry of Public Security and the loan for the construction of infrastructure such as Route 32 (still pending).
Everybody agrees that the country needs an coordination plan among the Ministries of Foreign Trade, Agriculture and Tourism in order to get a real advantage on the FTA.