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Jamaica strengthens trading ties with Costa Rica

MINISTER of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton has cemented Jamaica's trading relations with Costa Rica after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Costa Rica's Minister of Foreign Alexander Mora earlier this month.

Under the MOU, both countries have agreed to implement a system which properly recognises the origin of goods, ultimately ensuring a transparent commercial framework for the planning of future trading activities and investments. The deal also seeks to take advantage of the countries' close proximity to each other and creates opportunities for further economic development.

Currently, Jamaica and Costa Rica trade under the Caricom/Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement which was signed in 2004. However, trading takes place through an administrative process, where export papers are stamped before goods can be cleared for entry.

"What the agreement does is streamline exportation into Costa Rica. To ensure that goods are authentically made in Jamaica, the Bureau of Standard approves and stamps our goods. Costa Rica has now implemented such a system so that Jamaica doesn't end up with a pass-through of goods that may be coming from the United States or any other market under the disguise of being made in Costa Rica," logistics and emerging sectors manager at JAMPRO, Tastey Blackman told the Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica's trade exports to Costa Rica includes sauces and spices, printed books and leaflets, boxes, plastic crates and containers for compressed or liquified gas of iron or steel, while importing preserves and medicines from Costa Rica. The MOU takes effect in Costa Rica on June 1.

Since the signing of the Caricom/Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement in 2004, reports are that Hylton was reluctant to fully implement the agreement, saying that there needed to be clarity on issues relating to rules of origin, given that Costa Rica has established a free-trade agreement with the United States.

He stated that if Jamaica is to benefit from the Agreement, there had to be an agreement to ensure there is not a pass-through of goods from the United States.

Hylton, who met with Minister Mora at Costa Rica's Ministry of Foreign Trade, emphasised the importance of the agreement to Jamaica's trade and overall economic interests, stating that "this is a symbol of partnership between Jamaica and Costa Rica and I look forward to improving our trade relationship. It will enhance our existing ties and provide an opportunity for more cooperation and exchange of valuable trading information."

Minister Mora also expressed his desire to create what he considered to be a strategic alliance with Jamaica as there is significant scope for cooperation in the areas of free trade, investment, logistics, tourism and culture.

"When we have this agreement in place, it opens a space for dialogue and one of the areas that we are looking at immediately is logistics," Blackman told the Sunday Finance.

"Costa Rica is surrounded by the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, and they have constructed and opened a large port on the Caribbean side. We are thinking that from a logistics point of view that we can also ask them to send vessels here and we consolidate those vessels into larger vessels for further transshipment to the large markets like the United States and Asia," she said.

Blackman stated that through the MOU, Jampro will be working with trade bodies in Costa Rica to improve trade relations with the Export Promotion Agency of Costa Rica and the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency to increase exports as well as assist Jamaican entrepreneurs with understanding and accessing the Costa Rican market.

Courtesy: Jamaica Observer

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