The elimination of tariffs on agricultural products and flexible rules of origin for products such as tuna, textiles and plastics are part of the changes incorporated in the Agreement.
The Minister of Economy, Sergio de la Torre said that in the next few years Guatemala's exports to Europe could be doubled, as has happened with the other trade agreements that the Central American nation has signed.
The country has fulfilled the last requirement which was pending, the registration of geographical indications, meaning that the Association Agreement could come into force in November.
The Ministry of Economy will notify on September 30 that it has complied with the ratification of the Association Agreement with the European Union and with the 60-day period required for amendments to the Law on Industrial Property related to geographical indications.
The Trade Policy Committee of the Council of the European Union has recommended the entry into force of the agreement with Costa Rica on 1st of October.
From a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex):
The Trade Policy Committee of the Council of the European Union, composed of the appropriate Ministries of the Member States agreed today to recommend the entry into force for Costa Rica of the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union (CAAA). The decision is an important step towards achieving the enforcement of this agreement from October 1.
The Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union will enter into force on August 1 for countries which ratify it before July 15.
From a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica (COMEX):
Today, the deputies in charge of foreign trade of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama met in San Jose, where they held a video conference with the Director General of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission, Joao Aguiar Machado, who served as Chief Negotiator for the European Central America Association Agreement (CAAA). During the meeting they discussed the progress of the registration of geographical indications in the legislative process and approval of the Agreement.
In the absence of ratification of the Agreement, the agricultural sector sees its 2013 and 2014 harvests in danger, as European buyers are already negotiating with other Central American countries.
Alvaro Saenz, president of the National Chamber of Agriculture and Agribusiness (CNAA), said the delay in the approval of the CAAA compromises the sector since on June 15 Europe will announce which countries will enter into the first block of the trade agreement to set export quotas.
The Federation of Chambers and Associations of Exporters of Central America is calling for the Congresses of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama to quickly ratify the Association Agreement with the EU.
From a press release issued by the Guatemalan Association of Exporters (AGEXPORT):
The Federation of Chambers and Associations of Exporters of Central America and the Dominican Republic (FECAEXCA) which groups together the Chambers and Associations of Exporters of Guatemala (AGEXPORT), El Salvador (COEXPORT), Nicaragua (APEN), Honduras (FPX), Costa Rica (CADEXCO), Panama (APEX) and the Dominican Republic (ADOEXPO) are meeting in Guatemala in order to coordinate strategies.
"The monopoly itself is not the problem, the problem is the abuse that is committed" Erick Coyoy, Minister of Economy.
The main priorities set by the Minister of Economy revolve around the obligations of the country and the region, the agreements reached with the European Union, which refer to integration of the isthmus and in particular customs and promoting market competition.
Annual growth in trade between Central American countries from 1960 to the close of 2008 averaged 11.7%, increasing from $30 million to $6.3 billion.
"Geography is destiny,” Napoleon would often say, and Central America is a clearly a case in point. As far as trade is concerned, the region’s countries are one, and in terms of business it is essential to take this into account.
According to him, Nicaragua gets many benefits from the agreement, including assuring some key beneficial tariff conditions when exporting to Europe, which include zero tariffs for all its agricultural goods and 99% of the country’s industrial production. EU-CAAA made permanent the advantages Nicaragua had under the Generalized Preferences System (SGP Plus), removing the transitional and discretional nature of the former system.
Between 2 and 5 years will pass until the Association Agreement with Europe enters into force, but Costa Rican exporters are already studying how to compete in that market.
Being more and more competitive seems to be the basic recipe to effectively compete in the EU’s 500 million person market.
Costa Rican businessmen are already seeking the necessary tools to achieve this indispensable increase in competitiveness: advice and training in how to export to Europe, business networking and adapting their goods to Europe’s demands and preferences.