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China and Costa Rica signed a Free Trade Agreement on Thursday, to remove trade barriers and enhance bilateral ties, the Ministry of Commerce announced in a statement on its website, Xinhua reported on Thursday.

The agreement was the first free-trade pact signed between China and a Central American country, and would help both sides tap into each other's market, as well as other markets in Asia and Central America, it said.

The agreement was signed between Chinese Commerce Minister, Chen Deming and his Costa Rican counterpart Marco Ruiz. The two sides hoped that the FTA could be implemented as early as the second half of this year.

Yi Xiaozhun, China's vice commerce minister, compared the signing of the FTA to 'spring sowing,' which would further boost Sino-Costa Rica cooperations in trade, service and investment.

The FTA also laid out a framework for cooperation to energise the two nations' relationship with regard to the sports, cultural and technology fields, said Yi at the celebration banquet.

The two countries would gradually lift tariffs off more than 90 percent of products traded between them once the FTA took effect.

The FTA also would open sectors for investment from the other side: 45 service sectors in Costa Rica, including telecommunications and real estate, and seven sectors in China.

The tax reduction would benefit the trading of Chinese products such as textile materials, light industrial goods and machineries, as well as coffee, beef and fruit juice from Costa Rica, the statement said.

Marco Ruiz, Foreign Trade Minister of Costa Rica, told Xinhua that the pact was 'a win-win result' for both economies and he believed that it would help bilateral trade grow 15 to 20 per cent on annual basis.