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Costa Rica and Panama: Exporting to EFTA

Monday, July 1, 2013

A free trade agreement signed last month by Costa Rica and Panama on one hand, and the four members of the European Free Trade Association, will help exporters of valued-added products, following the elimination of customs duties.

Two of the four EFTA countries – Liechtenstein and Iceland – are small markets.

But the other two – Norway and Switzerland – offer substantial opportunities for increased sales of chocolate candy and tropical fruit condiments, among other valued-added products, in which Costa Rica and Panama have a competitive advantage.

Currently, processed foods made in Costa Rica or Panama pay duties of as much as 25%, when they are imported into an EFTA country.

EFTA members already allow the duty-free importation of basic tropical agricultural products, including banana, pineapple, melon and coffee.

A free trade agreement will also create a favorable climate for investors from EFTA countries.

Costa Rica and Panama had total trade last year of $700 million with EFTA, whose population of 13 million constitutes the world’s 11th largest region in term of goods traded, in addition to being a major player in the service sector, as well as foreign direct investment.