Costa Rica will take advantage of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China to strengthen its commercial ties with other Asian countries in 2012, Costa Rican Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez said here Thursday.
The trade ministry will make efforts to enable more Costa Rican businessmen to export their products to China through the agreement, which took effect in August 2011, Gonzalez said in an interview with Xinhua.
Compared with other agreements Costa Rica has signed, the FTA with China was implemented smoothly as Costa Rica's Legislative Assembly approved it in the first half of 2011, the minister said.
The minister also stressed that China is important to Costa Rica, because China is an economy which has reported average growth rates between 8 and 10 percent during the last decade.
"Tastes and choices of the Chinese have diversified, and consumption trends have been enlarged during the last years. New products, like coffee, are being consumed in China," Gonzalez said.
Costa Rican products, such as ornamental plants, palm heart, meat,coffee, fruit juices and orange pulp, have great potential, she said.
These products are among the 99.6 percent of Costa Rican exports which currently enjoy preferred access to the Chinese market, and Gonzalez expected that these products will boost her country's exports.
Also, the minister said that bananas, coffee and leather products are now being exported to China in accordance with the FTA, and other products like Costa Rican rum and fruit extracts will soon be available on the Chinese market as well.
Costa Rica has made great efforts to make itself a gateway to markets in America with its large network of trade agreements, Gonzalez said.
"This is a work we have to continue," she said.
The minister said that in 2011, several Chinese government and business delegations visited Costa Rica and showed interest in investing in areas like infrastructure, aeronautics, clean energy, high technology, agriculture and the textile industry.
Gonzalez also said that Costa Rica expects to become a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), in which the country currently is an observer.
In 2012, Costa Rica expects to implement a FTA with Singapore, and to start negotiating a FTA with South Korea with a view to exploring the Japanese and Indian markets.