SAN JOSE, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Costa Rica's Congress on Tuesday approved an overhaul to a free trade agreement with Mexico aimed at spurring trade between the Central American country and its neighbors.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Mexico and Costa Rica's existing 1995 treaty will be merged with Mexico's covenants with Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, to stimulate regional trade.
Costa Rican Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez, who is competing to be the next director general of the World Trade Organization, said the agreement modernizes provisions for investment, services, public sector transactions and intellectual property.
Trade between Costa Rica, a country of 4.5 million, and Mexico grew 10 percent a year between 2000-2011, generating $1.4 billion, according to Costa Rica's foreign trade ministry.
The update to the treaty comes a week after new Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto visited Costa Rica, where he met with his counterpart Laura Chinchilla and urged Congress to approve the rebooted treaty, originally signed in 2011.
During his visit, Pena Nieto also met with heads of state from Panama, Honduras and Guatemala, and told reporters that he had discussed the possibility of including Panama, the region's booming economy, within the terms of the treaty. (Reporting by Isabella Cota)