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Costa Rica foreign trade minister visits Puerto Rico to bolster ties

Costa Rica’s minister of foreign trade and investment, Manuel Tovar, visited Puerto Rico this week to meet with economic sector leaders and government officials with the aim of strengthening commercial ties between the island and Costa Rica as well as exploring new business opportunities. 

In an interview with News is my Business, Tovar said he was meeting Wednesday with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi and Economic Development Secretary Manuel Cidre.

“Reconnect with a partner, a friend and an ally, both from a commercial point of view and a political point of view,” the trade minister said. “Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and exerts strong leadership in the Latin American region. What we want to do is send a message that Puerto Rico can play a key role in our economies and national development.”

Tover noted that his visit also seeks to promote the exchange of goods and services between Puerto Rico and Costa Rica.

Costa Rica and Puerto Rico have maintained a solid trade relationship for years, with Costa Rican exports to Puerto Rico amounting to approximately $185 million, and Puerto Rican imports from Costa Rica reaching around $25 million.

Tovar’s visit to the island represents an opportunity to further strengthen these ties and open new doors in the commercial sphere.

“We want to promote foreign investment, from Puerto Rico to Costa Rica, and from Costa Rica to Puerto Rico,” Tovar emphasized. “There is recent commercial exchange that we want to promote and we also want to discuss with the governor — ask for support that is a relevant action in Washington with regard to Costa Rica joining the agreement with the USMCA [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement], which is the improved Nafta [North American Free Trade Agreement] version…. We feel that Costa Rica is a supplier for sectors such as semiconductors, medical devices that are very important for national security in the United States.”

Tovar said that Costa Rica wants to consolidate and mature the relationship that previously existed. “We want to reconnect and empower that relationship,” he added.

The foreign official noted that during his four-day visit, he has had meetings with business associations, consortiums and universities because “part of the relationships that we want to empower not only go hand in hand with the exchange of goods and services and foreign investment but also with the academic exchange.”

Puerto Rico, he said, “has two universities with great reputations: the University of Puerto Rico [UPR] and InterAmerican University,” adding that he met with the heads of both institutions to explore academic relationships between Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.

“Hopefully, a satellite campus with the UPR and the InterAmerican University in Costa Rica can be established,” Tovar said.

He explained that his visit consisted of “a bit of everything” and aimed at exploring business opportunities for Costa Ricans on the island and for Puerto Ricans in his country. 

“You [Puerto Rico] are food importers and Costa Rica is an important global food provider, but also Puerto Rico has transformed into a services economy,” he noted.

The relationship between Puerto Rico and Costa Rica is being strengthened through a memorandum of understanding, with the Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) collaborating to draft a road map that includes commercial visions and explores sectors of interest to look for business opportunities between Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, Tovar concluded.

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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