Salvador Sánchez Cerén, President of the Republic of El Salvador, on the values that tie the two nations together, and the opportunities for more cooperation.

In November 2014, we had the distinguished visit of President Luis Guillermo Solís to El Salvador. On that occasion we decided to give a new impetus to the ties that have united our two nations for more than 170 years, when the Salvadoran José María Cañas, a hero of the Central American war in the fight against the filibusteros, arrived in Costa Rica.

It was during the visit of President Solís that we agreed to reach a Strategic Partnership Agreement between our nations, to deepen the dialogue and develop joint initiatives in matters of political, social, and economic cooperation. Today, it is with great satisfaction that we celebrate the realization of this commitment. We have just signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Costa Rica and El Salvador, an instrument that will expand political dialogue on bilateral, regional, and international issues of mutual interest. This agreement will strengthen trade and investment, expand cooperation, and promote exchanges and the development of joint ventures in educational, scientific, and cultural fields.

We are countries with good practices and experiences in many fields. A sample I highlighted to President Solís is the valuable support that the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) and its rector, Luis Carpio, have given us to create the Universidad en Línea Educación a Distancia in El Salvador. We are extremely grateful to UNED for the enormous organizational effort deployed to bring us their experience.

We have launched the 2014-2016 Technical and Scientific Cooperation Program in areas such as education, security, health, social protection, childhood and adolescence, tourism, housing, and cooperation for development. We are now identifying possible projects to be integrated into the 2017-2019 program. Likewise, in terms of trade and investment we have an important dynamic. In 2015 alone, our bilateral trade amounted more than USD506 million. In terms of investments, Costa Rica has significantly increased its presence in El Salvador in recent years, especially in areas of energy generation, construction services, machinery, industry, and air services. We will continue to strengthen this growing relationship. Soon our authorities will inaugurate the new ferry that will operate between the Port of La Unión Centroamericana in El Salvador and Puerto Caldera in Costa Rica. This is a private sector effort that will streamline trade, reduce costs, ease the border crossing, and reduce road impact.

In another area, we are exploring the possibility of sharing the physical space of our embassy in Australia to house our diplomatic headquarters in that nation. We have also discussed issues on the regional agenda that we promote through the Central American Integration System (SICA). We are convinced that we must continue to work on issues that are crucial for our peoples, such as democratic security, social integration, the fight against poverty, economic integration, climate change, comprehensive risk management, and the strengthening of institutions. The Strategic Partnership Agreement that we signed allows us to take advantage of the potential we have.

We are going through an important moment in this solid relationship, not only for having reached the 170th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, but also for the launch of these initiatives that strengthen our ties of brotherhood and cooperation.

I reiterate my gratitude to President Solís for the opportunity to meet. We reiterate our vows to continue deepening the bonds of friendship, knowing that all this work translates into clear benefits for the citizens of El Salvador and Costa Rica.