MEXICO CITY – Representatives of the governments of Mexico and the Central American countries wrapped up the 5th round of talks on a free trade agreement, making progress in the areas of market access, trade facilitation, technical barriers and intellectual property rights, officials said.
Negotiators also made progress in the areas of trade defense, government purchasing and dispute resolution mechanisms, the Mexican Economy Secretariat said.
The negotiations took place in Mexico City, the secretariat said, adding that the next round of talks would be held in August in El Salvador.
The goal of the negotiations is to create a single free trade agreement that consolidates Mexico’s 1995 pact with Costa Rica, the 1998 agreement with Nicaragua and the 2001 accord with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador into a single deal.
Central America, which has 38 million people, has tremendous potential for Mexican businesses.
The region’s imports total about $50 billion, with Mexico accounting for just 8 percent of that figure.
A single free trade agreement will allow Mexico to increase its exports to the region, the secretariat said.
Trade with Costa Rica has increased by 2,100 percent since the signing of the bilateral trade agreement, while trade with Nicaragua has soared 330 percent and trade with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has risen 200 percent since the inking of that trade pact, the secretariat said. EFE