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Private Sector Participation in Trade Policy Formulation and Application

entral America has broad experience in the negotiation of trade agreements. In this region, the private sector has been associated with the processes of formulation and application of trade policy since the onset of the Central American Common market. National governments and regional integration agencies have envisaged different mechanisms through which the private sector participates in trade policy processes. One of the most common mechanisms for the participation of the private initiative is their contribution in advisory councils on trade policy formulation and application. Those councils have different roles and duties, such as recommending policies, defining export strategies and suggesting specific negotiating positions. As regards trade negotiations, the Governments have implemented a process of consultation with the private sector to define negotiating positions. This scheme, referred to as “cuarto adjunto� (next room), has been improved in the course of different negotiations. By this scheme, the private sector has had the possibility to accompany government representatives to negotiation meetings so that there is a permanent contact and information exchange among negotiators, entrepreneurs and trade unions. In Costa Rica, trade unions are represented at the highest level of trade policy formulation and application. The Foreign Trade Advisory Council is the step of political dialog between the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the representatives of the different economic sectors of the Costa Rican society. Its main role is to advise the Executive Power on external trade and foreign investment policies and to oversee compliance with such policies. The Council is presided by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and consists of the Ministers of Economy, Industry and Trade, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Livestock and by representatives of export and investment promotion organizations. Furthermore, such Advisory Council is also composed of by the Presidents of the following trade Unions: Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Private Sector Associations, Costa Rican Chamber of Industries, Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Exporters, National Chamber of Agriculture and Agro-industry, Chamber of Representatives of Foreign Firms, Costa Rican Distributors and Importers, Costa Rican Chamber of the Food Industry, two representatives of SMEs, consumer associations and the national farmers association (UPANACIONAL). In the course of the negotiations with the United States, the Council met at least once a month with the purpose of offering effective opportunities for dialog and the highest level consultation with the Costa Rican productive sector.

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