Costa Rica trade deficit shrinks

February 27, 2009

Import and export numbers both sustained considerable blows in January from the global economic crisis, but the traffic of incoming shipments slowed further than that of outgoing goods, bringing down Costa Rica´s trade deficit by 52.7 percent.

Imports shrank in January by 32.6 percent from the same month last year, while exports went down 17 percent. Economists continue to declare a recession, though state officials and the Central Bank are still avoiding the “R” word (see last week´s story).

“The drop in imports reflects a lower domestic demand, resulting from the rise in interest rates, the recession the country is experiencing, and the drop in the prices of fuel,” consulting firm Aldesa said.

In terms of exports, the recession in the United States, the chief importer of Tico-made goods, continued to cut into companies´ earnings here. Last month saw $220.7 million in goods exported to the U.S., down by 17.6 percent from January 2008, according to the Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX).

Of all exports, computer parts were hit the hardest, said COMEX, citing losses of as much as $56 million, or 30 percent.

“One of the principal causes of the lower level of operation of exporting companies is based on the difficulty in this sector to attain lines of credit,” Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz said in a statement.

Amid the grim figures, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office found a ray of hope: Canada. Against the grain, exports to Canada rose by 9.7 percent in January compared with the same month last year, with ornamental plants, tires, pineapples and textiles driving the increase.

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