Costa Rican manufacturers worry that Colombia will get upper-hand in a
free trade treaty.
Costa Rican manufacturers voiced concern that the proposed free-trade
treaty would put them at a disadvantage to their counterparts in
Colombia, after the two countries concluded the first phase of
negotiations on a free-trade treaty.
Agricultural products were the subject of these negotiations, and the
two countries agreed not to include coffee, flowers, bananas and sugar
in the agreement. This means such products will not benefit from
reduced import duties.
The Cámara Costarricense de la Industria Alimentaria, a chamber
of commerce representing the food industry, criticized Costa Rica's
Ministerio de Comercio Exterior specifically for removing sugar from
the agreement. Not being able to buy sugar from Colombia will put Costa
Rican food producers at a disadvantage to those in Colombia, the
This made other Costa Rican manufacturing industries worried that this
decision would set a precedent of giving Colombia the commercial edge,
especially since labor is already cheaper in Colombia.
“If you want a country like Costa Rica to compete with Colombia, you
need everything to be on the table,” said Marco Cercone, president of
the chamber, in a phone conversation.
Sugar and the other commodities are key exports for both countries, and
for that reason, negotiators agreed not trade these products with one
However, the chamber pointed out that such restrictions will handicap
processed food and drink producers, because these companies will not be
able purchase the cheapest sugar. The chamber said that this will force
these local companies to increase prices and make them less competitive
“If we don't have the tools with good prices, then we cannot compete,”
In a press release, the chamber said it will not support a treaty with
such an agreement between Costa Rica and Colombia, and voiced concerns
for what might occur to the local food processing industry if this ends
up in the final treaty.
In addition to the standard operational costs, Cercone described in a
press release how Costa Rican food producers will have to contend with
new competing imports while they must buy more expensive sugar.
"This terrible practice of protecting a commodity, like sugar, is an
attack against the consumer and against creating added value, for
this reason, CACIA rejects the possibility of supporting a supposed
'free trade treaty' with such features,” said Cercone in the press
This is the first round of negotiations between the countries on the
free-trade treaty that will encompass many other products and
commodities. These negotiations are expected to last five months.
— Aug. 3, 2012
honored for mangrove work
By the A.M. Colombia staff
The United Nations Environment Programme announced that a Colombian
organization has been awarded a fuel-efficient car made by Kia for
efforts to host an event promoting environmental action and protection.
The organization, Fundación Ecoprogreso, hosted an event to
raise awareness of mangroves and how vital they are to the environment
near Cartagena. That was June 5, which the UN designated at World
The foundation was one of five organizations to win the award from
around the world. The other organizations hosted events in Australia,
Bangladesh, India and Kenya.
“Today we celebrate five inspiring projects, submitted for the
World Environment Day 2012 challenge, that illuminate the pathway to a
transition to a green economy,” said Achim Steiner, the U.N.’s
environmental program director, in a press release.
The foundation was founded in 2008 with the purpose of protecting the
wetlands around Cartagena, specifically the mangroves there.
“We have seriously threatened wetlands and communities living in
extreme poverty interact with them in a vicious cycle where poverty
leads to environmental degradation and this in turn leads to more
poverty,” wrote the foundation on its Web site.
The event, which was a day of activities that brought attention to how
mangroves can affect tourism and sustainable fishing, played well into
the United Nation’s theme this year which was how each individual can
contribute containing humanity’s effect on the planet and the