KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Government of Jamaica has signaled its intention to join its regional neighbours soon and sign off on the full implementation of the CARICOM/Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, said that Jamaica has been applying the agreement on a provisional basis and has taken the decision to bring it into force.
Established in 2004, the CARICOM/Costa Rica FTA is intended to increase trade between CARICOM and Costa Rica, by granting reciprocal duty-free or preferential access to a wide range of products. Jamaica is the only nation of the more developed countries of CARICOM that has not yet fully implemented the agreement.
Baugh said Cabinet has endorsed the issuing of instructions for the drafting of the requisite amendments to the Customs Act to give effect to the arrangement.
With the implementation of the FTA, the government is hoping to take advantage of opportunities to achieve more balanced trade with the Central American country. Dr. Baugh said that Costa Rica enjoys a massive trade surplus with Jamaica, with recent statistics showing that Jamaica has imported some US$50 million worth of goods from the country compared to exports of just US$700,000. He said that, despite the imbalance, Jamaica has remained one of Costa Rica’s largest importers from CARICOM.
“We are well aware that the objective of increasing exports cannot be achieved without significant growth in investments…One of the things that we have to do is to make sure that the countries that are involved in the trading agreements, (realize) that capacities exist for us to take advantage of the market places to which we have gained access,” he said.
Baugh said that outside of trade, Jamaica is also looking to explore relations with Costa Rica in renewable energy, the construction of dams, and in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector. He also welcomed the interest demonstrated by the Costa Ricans in doing business in Jamaica.
“I believe that this…marks the beginning of another level in our relations, the outcome of which I expect will be mutually rewarding. In this atmosphere of cooperation, all opportunities for trade and investment in goods with a view to the mutual benefit of both countries must be explored,” he said last week as he addressed a delegation from Costa Rica led by Minister of Foreign Trade, Anabel González.
González said she was pleased that the Jamaican government has decided to move forward to implement the FTA, noting that the Costa Rican Congress has already granted its approval “and we are ready to move forward”.
She said the agreement is in force in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados and Belize and there has been a positive growth of trade flows.
González noted that the CARICOM/Costa Rica FTA would also provide small and medium-sized enterprises in both countries with better market access opportunities, which could strengthen the export platform and enhance competitiveness in both economies.
“I believe that PROCOMER (the Foreign Trade Corporation of Costa Rica) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) can work hand in hand in promoting the exchange of information, enhance confidence among our private sectors, business missions to explore existing opportunities, market studies and all that may be required to promote the prompt and effective use of the FTA as a powerful instrument for trade expansion and diversification for both of our countries,” she said.