|Richard Sealy, Minister of Tourism, gives the opening address at the??trade??expo in the Crown Plaza Hotel Costa Rica. (F.Ince/BGIS)|
There is a lot of "untapped potential" between the Caribbean and Costa Rica, even though a CARICOM-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement is in place.
That observation came today from Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, as he delivered an address to officially open an exhibition which forms part of a three-day trade mission to Costa Rica.
"Our efforts to secure traction must be revitalised. We are ready to restart this process and during this mission we hope to sensitise the Government of Costa Rica to our desire for this enhanced cooperation," Mr. Sealy remarked.
Admitting that the trade of regional goods to Costa Rica had been limited by barriers such as language and shipping logistics, he continued: "I believe there is scope for business persons to be more assertive in pursuing opportunities in a mutual and cooperative arrangement."
He expressed the view that partnerships could be formed with Costa Rica in many areas, spanning food and agro processing, packaging and labelling, pharmaceutical products and services, construction and building materials and information technology services and solutions.
Barbados and Costa Rica do not yet have air links and the Minister noted that the establishment of direct air services with that Central American country should favourably impact on the visitors coming to the region.
"The conclusion, therefore, of an Air Services Agreement between Barbados and Costa Rica is also seen as something significant, given the anticipated increases in trade linkages," he stated.
According to him, the region and Costa Rica shared some similarities and he said several areas of cooperation had been established to fortify those relations. "Our countries have small economies and share deep respect for human rights and good governance.
Each of our countries has traditionally placed great importance on education, sustainable development, protection of the environment, as well as the development of our social services," he observed.
Mr. Sealy reiterated the importance of the mission and said that through its efforts, economic opportunities and high-value jobs could be created, at a time when a boost in economic activity was needed.
He continued: "If this sounds familiar, it is because we know that Costa Rican businesses share this same passion to succeed and thrive beyond this financial and economic crisis. This mission is, therefore, a win-win for regional companies and their workers and for the businesses and people of Costa Rica."
The Minister is joined on this mission by Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, approximately 20 representatives from public and private sector agencies, senior executives from a number of Barbadian companies, and six representatives from the Chambers of Commerce in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. The delegation will leave Costa Rica this Thursday, October 27.