San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trade balance increases, despite export growth

Trade scales are tipping heavily toward imports, as Costa Rica’s deficit increased almost 95 percent from the end of May 2007 to the same period this year, moving from $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion, according to the Central Bank.

The imbalance comes even as exports have increased so far this year by 7.8 percent, close to $300 million, according to a Foreign Trade Ministry report. Costa Rica has exported roughly $4.2 billion worth of goods by the end of May.

Rising oil prices place the greatest burden on the country’s balance of trade. In May 2007, Costa Rica imported some $448.5 million of fuel, while its bill for the same products last month totaled $843.1 million – an 88 percent increase.

The ministry’s latest report also shows the textile industry taking a hit over the past year, with sales registering a 21 percent drop.

Meanwhile, agriculture and fishing sectors saw a 9.5 percent and 10 percent gain. Several goods outperformed the rest, with the sale of fish increasing by 32 percent. Coffee and pineapple exports increased by 23 percent each.

Palm oil exports jumped 60 percent over the same period last year.

Typically strong, banana and melon exports sunk 3 percent and 18 percent from this time last year.

On the manufacturing front, the sale of medical implants increased by $89 million, a major impetus for the sector’s 6.7 percent growth.

Trade with the United States has decreased only slightly over the past year, despite that country’s ailing economy. Exports to the North American giant dipped by 0.1 percent, or $2 million.

“This behavior makes it clear, once more, the urgency for the exporting sector for our country to complete the implementation process of the (Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States),” said Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz.

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