OTTAWA, Ontario – Costa Rica has reopened its market to allow for full, unrestricted access to Canadian beef and beef product exports, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan announced. To highlight this success, Canada's top quality beef will be served at the Canadian Ambassador's Official Residence in San José, marking the first time in almost a decade that Canadian beef will be shipped to Costa Rica.

"This latest market opening will have a direct and immediate benefit for Canadian farmers and we'd like to thank the Costa Rican government for work in helping us get our safe, high-quality beef back to their marketplace," Ritz said.

"Achieving access to Costa Rica is great news for the beef industry," Van Loan added. "I visited Costa Rica in August of last year where I met with officials to resolve this issue. Canadians can count on our government to continue opening new markets for Canadian workers, businesses and farmers."

This announcement represents the resumption of full market access for Canadian beef and beef products and is the result of a concentrated effort by governments to enhance trade between the two countries. Costa Rica closed its beef market to Canada following the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003.

Resumed access to Canadian beef in Costa Rica will be celebrated on March 10. Canada's Ambassador to Costa Rica, Cameron MacKay, joined by renowned Chef Edwardo Alvarez, will host an event to showcase Canadian beef at the Official Residence in San José. International buyers, Costa Rican government officials and media representatives will be among those in attendance at the Canadian-style barbecue.

The event will also highlight other Canadian agricultural products such as pork, among others.

As of November 2010, bilateral trade of agricultural products with Costa Rica was valued at $244 million. In recognition of the benefits of free-trade to their economic and trade relationship, Canada and Costa Rica are currently in discussions to expand their bilateral free-trade agreement, signed in 2002.