QUITO, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador and Costa Rica have made significant progress in free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, Julio Jose Prado, the Ecuadorian minister of production, foreign trade, investments and fishing, said on Wednesday.
"Very important advances" have been made in the negotiations, the first round of which began on Aug. 8, Prado tweeted, adding that a new round of negotiations will be held at the end of this month in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.
On the sidelines of the IX Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso and his Costa Rican counterpart, Rodrigo Chaves, announced that the two countries would start FTA negotiations.
The issues on the table include market access, rules of origin, customs procedures, trade facilitation, trade and labor issues, intellectual property, public procurement, technical barriers to trade and regulatory consistency, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, commercial protection, competition policy and electronic commerce.
For Ecuador, reaching an FTA with Costa Rica is key in its strategy to consolidate the country's position in the Central American market where it already has trade agreements with Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Canned fish, bananas, chemicals and pharmaceuticals are among the exports from Ecuador to the Costa Rican market. ■