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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05SANJOSE1940 2005-08-19 21:09:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Cable title:  

COSTA RICA AND ASIA TRADE ISSUES IN THE MEDIA

Tags:   ETRD ECPS ECON PREL PGOV SOCI CS 
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					  UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001940 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

WHA/CEN
EB FOR WCRAFT, BLAMPRON
E FOR DEDWARDS
WHA/EPSC FOR KURS, LGUMBINER
STATE PASS TO USTR FOR RVARGO, CPADILLA, AMALITO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECPS ECON PREL PGOV SOCI CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA AND ASIA TRADE ISSUES IN THE MEDIA




1. (U) Summary. In the midst of President Pacheco's 12-
day trip to Taiwan and Japan, issues surrounding trade
between Costa Rica and several Asian countries have been
recent topics in the local press. While in Taipei,
President Pacheco discussed his intentions to pursue a free
trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan. (Several months ago,
Minister of Foreign Trade (COMEX) Manuel Gonzalez announced
Costa Rica's intentions to pursue free trade talks with
Japan.) While in Tokyo, Japanese business representatives
urged passage of the United States-Central American-
Dominican Republic free trade agreement (CAFTA-DR).
Despite not having official relations with China and being
one of only two dozen nations to officially recognize
Taiwan, trade with China is growing rapidly. End Summary.



2. (U) According to an August 17, 2005, article in "La
Republica," Costa Rican exports to Taiwan have grown from
USD 9.9 million in 2000 to USD 38.4 million in 2003, but
decreased slightly last year to USD 34.8 million. Pacheco
stated that starting free trade negotiations with Taiwan is
a strategic decision to penetrate Asian markets. Costa
Rican business people have criticized this decision and
stated that greater attention should be placed on the more
important markets of the U.S. and European Union (EU).
These critics said that Pacheco's decision regarding an FTA
with Taiwan shows a lack of vision and knowledge by the
current administration. "This is not the time to try to
start negotiations with Taiwan when we cannot even move
forward on the free trade agreement with the U.S.," said
Sergio Navas, Executive Vice President of the Costa Rican
Chamber of Exporters.



3. (U) Press coverage has also been given to trade with
China. The aforementioned "La Republica" article revealed
that Costa Rican exports to China have grown from USD 30.1
million in 2000 to USD 300.1 million in 2004 (almost nine
times the exports to Taiwan in 2004). "In the trade aspect,
the potential of China is enormous and is more attractive,"
said Mayi Antillon, Vice President of the Industry Chamber.
Critics of President Pacheco state that "giving priority to
an agreement with Taiwan would show a lack of clarity in
the administration's trade policy." A similar article
covering the growth in exports to China appeared in the
August 18, 2005 "La Prensa Libre."



4. (U) An August 19, 2005 "La Republica" article revealed
that Japanese business representatives stated that approval
of CAFTA-DR would be seen as progress in the process of
regional economic integration, and is considered essential
in attracting increased investment to Central America. The
business representatives assured that CAFTA-DR will bring
new economic opportunities to the region.



5. (SBU) Comment. Costa Rica has a long history of
diplomatic ties with Taiwan. President Pacheco's
announcement to pursue an FTA with Taiwan may be more
public relations than anything else. In addition, Minister
Gonzalez, who has been working on finishing FTAs including
CAFTA-DR that were started by his predecessor, may be
motivated by his desire to make his mark in the FTA arena.
COMEX has its hands full with implementing the recently
approved FTA with the 12-Caribbean nation group CARICOM,
and working on the numerous issues related to CAFTA-DR
ratification. The recent announcements of intentions to
pursue FTAs with Taiwan, the EU, and Japan are lofty goals
but may not reflect COMEX's current capabilities,
especially given the departure of many key personnel over
the last year.
FRISBIE