San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trade deficit doubles in first half of '08

Costa Rica´s trade deficit during the first half of the year reached $2.75 billion, more than twice the $1.35 billion deficit registered during the same period last year, according to the Central Bank.

The widening deficit is the result of imports growing four times faster than exports. During the first half of this year, imports registered a 28 percent increase, while exports grew by only 6 percent.

Imports increased from $6.01 billion during the first half of 2007 to $7.72 during the same period last year. Exports increased from $4.67 billion to $4.97 billion.

The main import categories were raw materials for industry ($3 billion) and fuels ($1 billion). The speed at which imports have increased is attributed to higher international food and oil prices.

The leading exports were Intel microprocessors ($1.06 billion), followed by other free zone exports ($1.04 billion), processed foods ($531 million), bananas ($338 million), pineapples ($304 million), and coffee ($237 million), among others.

Government officials attributed the slow rate of growth in the country´s exports to delays in the implementation of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) and the slowdown in that country, which is by far Costa Rica´s main export market.

Last year, Costa Rica finished the year with a $3.62 billion trade deficit, which marked an eight percent increase over the $3.35 deficit registered in 2006.

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