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Manuel González Sanz

UAE, ABU DHABI - Diplomacy

A Beautiful Friendship

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Costa Rica

Bio

Manuel Antonio González Sanz was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs in May 2014. He was minister of foreign trade (2004-2006), ambassador to the UN and its specialized organizations in Geneva, and special advisor to the vice president of Costa Rica. Minister González graduated from the University of Costa Rica and has an LL.M Stone Scholar (Honours), from Columbia University. He taught corporate law and securities at both the law and business schools of the University of Costa Rica and is a partner at one of the largest and oldest law firms in Central America, as well as having published numerous articles on financial, trade, and legal issues.

“We intend to be the Emirates’ strategic partner in Central America and the Caribbean.“

What was the significance of President Solí­s’ visit to the UAE and how would you assess the success of the trip?

The visit set the tone for the initial chapter of relations between the UAE and Costa Rica. We have been building this relationship over the course of the last 18 months in an active and ambitious manner. To put this in perspective, during recent months I have met with my Emirati counterpart, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on five occasions, I have visited the Emirates three times before now, and my counterpart visited Costa Rica in February 2016. With the visit of President Solí­s to the UAE and his participation as a key speaker in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week we have sealed a relationship that looks to be both promising and enduring. We are visiting the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, and would have visited them all had time permitted. The UAE is a long way for any Latin American dignitary to come on a state visit, but our relationship with this country is so important that we embarked on a single visit to the UAE. During this visit we have opened our first embassy in the UAE, which represents a landmark for the bilateral relationship since we longed to have physical presence in this country to facilitate the plans we have for both nations.

What objectives did you pursue during this visit and how will they propel business opportunities for both parties?

We want the Emirates to look for opportunities in Costa Rica. We want to share a win-win relationship as we see a lot of trade opportunities for us both. Relations at the official level are as strong as they can be, and now we want to encourage the business communities of both sides to try their chances in the UAE or Costa Rica. There are a number of opportunities for Emiratis to invest in Costa Rica, and we intend to be the Emirates’ strategic partner in Central America and the Caribbean. We have an extensive network of trade agreements that can benefit companies that want to enter markets in this region. We have solid, friendly relations with our Latin American peers to work as a platform for the expansion of business opportunities. Likewise, the UAE represents the door to the GCC markets for us. We have opened a trade agency in Dubai, which will cater for business opportunities at a regional level. We have solid relations with the UAE and Qatar, and we want to expand to the other markets in the region as well. We have confirmed our participation in Dubai Expo 2020, and we have signed an agreement to eliminate the visa for both of our citizens to travel freely between both destinations, and most importantly we foresee a great future for mutual ties.

Costa Rica was one of the guests of honor during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. What is the significance of your country’s participation in this event and how can both countries share experiences on the matter?

The invitation to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was an honor for us because it is in recognition of the effort Costa Rica has put into renewable energies over the years. Energy efficiency and eco-friendly policies are the global trend now, but Costa Rica embarked on this process 60 years ago; it has become part of our national DNA. Today Costa Rica produces 99% of its energy and electricity using renewable resources and we are keen on maintaining that figure and sharing our experience with other nations. We acknowledge that spreading the word on environmental policies requires international solidarity and in the UAE we have found the ideal partner to promote these policies. This practices go beyond current events or temporary circumstances; they become long-standing practices that countries should embrace for the sake of their own future. The fact that Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the most high profile event on this topic, has been taking place for nine years reflects the openness of the UAE’s leadership to sharing its experiences all around the world.

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