China signed a free trade agreement on April 8 with Costa Rica—a country that only established diplomatic ties with the Asian giant in 2007. China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement that the pact was signed in Beijing by Commerce Minister Chen Deming and his Costa Rican counterpart Marco Ruiz. President-elect Laura Chinchilla, who takes over from Oscar Arias next month, will need support from opposition lawmakers to approve the deal and make Costa Rica the third Latin American nation to seal a trade agreement with the People’s Republic.
The pact will lift duties on 99% of Costa Rican exports to China. Chinese import tariffs on Costa Rican coffee will drop to zero in the next 10 years, the ministry added. Under the deal, 90% of Chinese imports, including electronics and appliances, will be exempt from tariffs. Last year, bilateral trade between China and Costa Rica reached $3.19 billion, up 10.2% on 2008.
Costa Rica is China’s ninth largest trading partner in Latin America, while China is the Central American nation’s second largest trade partner. China entered a free trade agreement with Peru last month, and two years ago signed one with Chile. (Alibaba.com, April 7; Xinhua, April 13, 2008)