Between 2006 and 2010 exports from Costa Rica to Panama increased from $267 million to $443 million.
The figure makes Panama the fourth largest importer of Costa Rican products in the world and the first in Central America, followed by Guatemala and Nicaragua. In the same period, exports to these two countries increased by 15% and 35% respectively.
The main products sold are: medicines (14% of total), prepared foods (7%), power cables (5%), plastic containers (3%) and paints and varnishes (3%).
The expected growth projections for Panama that emerged after the ratification of NAFTA have not been achieved.
The vice president of the Chamber of Costa Rican Exporters (Cadexco), Sergio Navas, attributed one of the causes to the economic crisis but he also recognized that they should improve logistics systems.
Panamanian President Martin Torrijos will travel to Costa Rica on October 24 to sign the FTA between the two countries.
The sign ceremony for the Free Trade Agreement between both countries will be held at the Presidential House in Costa Rica.
Torrijos will be accompanied by the minister in charge of Commerce and Industry, Severo Sousa, and the Panamanian delegation will be join by the first Panamanian vice president and foreign minister, Samuel Lewis, who has been on a visit to the US.
For Emmanuel Hess, general manager of Procomer, "the opening of this office will strengthen the commercial relation between Panama and Costa Rica, which will allow us to benefit more from the economic boom of our neighbor."
The full session of Congress unanimously approved the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Panama yesterday after the second reading and debate.
In order for the project to become law it must first be signed the president of the Republic, Oscar Arias, and published in the government Gazette. The commercial agreement provides an immediate opening and tax exemption for 92% of the 1500 products and services that Costa Rica offers to the Panamanian market..
Costa Rica legislators should approve the agreement this week at the latest after the second debate on the commercial agreement with Panama.
Congress received the ruling from the Constitutional Court which declares that the treaty does not contain any illegalities.
The agreement has the support of all the parties in the Congress, hence its approval should be quick.
The Constitutional Court endorsed the FTA with Panama after finding no conflicts with the Constitution; the project will be voted on in Congress in the next few days.
The ruling issued by the Court indicates that "there are no essential vices in the proceeding of said project" nor in the details of the agreement. With this resolution, the FTA between Costa Rica and Panama will return to Congress for the second round of voting and the last debate withing the next few days. After this it will be signed by President Oscar Arias.
Legislators have to ratify the decision in a second round of voting once the period of ordinary sessions start next week.
The agreement signed by both countries in September 2007 came in to effect for the Panamanians last December, hence the Costa Rican productive sectors have been pressuring Congress to approve the agreement.
Even the legislative groups opposed to the FTA with the US believe that the agreement negotiated with Panama will benefit Costa Rican producers since the neighboring country has become the main trading partner of Costa Rica in Central America.
Eleven months after it was signed, Costa Rica legislators will push the government to put the send the agreement to the Congress for debate during the month of August so that it can coming into force by the end of October.
All the political parties, even opposition parties such as the People’s Action Party (PAC), are in favor of the agreement; therefore the debates may take place in August or early September.
It's been eleven months since the Free Trade Agreement betwen Costa Rica and Panama was signed, and now Costa Rica's business community is pressuring the Legislative Assembly to ratify it.
The agreement was signed Aug. 7, 2007 and is now being pondered by the Commission for International Affairs of the Legislative Assembly.
The Chamber of Industries of Costa Rica says that once the commission is finished its work it would be urgent to ratify the bilateral accord.