Abu Dhabi: Costa Rica is planning to use the UAE as a hub to look for investment opportunities in the region as the ties between the two countries strengthen, the country’s first ambassador to the UAE told Gulf News in an interview.

“Costa Rica wishes to see the region and the area with the eyes and hearts of the UAE. We want to understand through the experience and knowhow of the UAE the region and the ways of working here not only politically, but economically and culturally,” said Francisco Chacon.

He said they are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance on building the framework for trade to blossom between the two countries.

“We want to be door for the UAE investments and economic opportunities in our region and we want to use the UAE as a hub for opportunities in this region,” he added.

Currently, bilateral trade between the two countries stands at around $3 million (Dh11 million) per annum and the ambassador expects the figure to go up in the coming years as both countries look for avenues of investments.

“There are a number of investments opportunities for Emirati companies to invest in Costa Rica including in infrastructure, tourism, agriculture and renewable energy.”

“In the same way, our country is strong in tourism and hospitality sectors and we are seeing if we can invest here. Some Costa Rican companies are keen to invest in Ras Al Khaimah in the hospitality industry.”

The two countries signed an aviation agreement last year and concluded negotiations for an agreement to prevent double taxation.

They are also in advanced talks for an agreement related to the protection and promotion of investment among the two countries.

“[An] agreement to prevent double taxation will be signed soon. Negotiations have been completed from both the sides and [it] is likely to be signed when our country’s deputy minister of foreign trade visits the UAE next month.”

Another development that is likely to give a fillip to the bilateral ties between the two countries is the opening of the Costa Rican embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Ambassador Chacon said the embassy would be inaugurated during the visit of the country’s foreign minister Manuel Gonzalez Sanz in October.

Last January, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis visited the UAE at the invitation of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the UAE, to address the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Solis visited Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, and held talks with the UAE leadership on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

According to the World Bank, Costa Rica’s GDP per capita has tripled since 1960 and its growth averaged 4.5 per cent between 2000 and 2013, compared to the regional average of 3.8 per cent for the same period. In 2016, the economy grew by 4.3 per cent and the growth is expected to be 3.9 per cent this year.