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China and Costa Rica begin free trade talks

Agence France Presse | 20 January 2009

China and Costa Rica begin free trade talks

SAN JOSE (AFP) - China and Costa Rica on Monday began talks for a free trade treaty under which the Central American nation hopes to export meat, plants, fruit and coffee to the Asian giant, officials said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the talks in November, during the highest-level visit by a Chinese official to Costa Rica, a little over a year after San Jose gave up six decades of ties with Taiwan.

Costa Rica is the third Latin American country to negotiate a free trade deal with China after Chile and Peru, which concluded its deal late last year.

A major exporter of computer components, Costa Rica has dismissed fears of an invasion of Chinese products into the country as it seeks to diversify ties amid worldwide financial woes.

The first round of talks in the Costa Rican capital, recently rocked by a strong earthquake, are due to end Wednesday and the process is due to end before President Oscar Arias leaves office in May 2010.

"We’re going to make a road map" during this time, said Costa Rican negotiator Fernando Ocampo at the start of the talks.

The first round will cover issues including intellectual property, technical obstacles to trade, health measures, services and investment, the Costa Rican foreign commerce ministry said.

Costa Rica became the first country in the region to establish diplomatic ties with China on June 1, 2007.

China has steadily won over former Taiwan allies over the years as its growing economic and diplomatic clout trumps Cold War alliances.

 source: AFP