It seems the way to attract foreign investment into Costa Rica follows a welltraveled blueprint for success: promote the strengths and benefits of the country and continue to redefine methods to inform the world of these qualities.
This has been the framework used to draw investment to Costa Rica for more than 60 years, with government agencies such as the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) and Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX) marketing the country’s strengths – education levels, stability and quality of life – to potential investors searching for opportunities.
“The development strategy of the country since 1948 has allowed us to develop a series of competitive strengths,” PROCOMER General Manager Emmanuel Hess told The Tico Times. “The high level of education, the political, economic and social stability and the quality of life, among other things, have brought the country successful growth in the amount of foreign direct investment, particularly lately with the growth of the high-tech sector.”
While the country’s core strengths are what attract foreign investment, as advancements in transportation and technology continue to evolve, Costa Rica is continually working to develop new ideas and strategies to improve the way foreign investment negotiations are conducted.
One method to help improve the visibility of Costa Rican products and businesses was the Buyers’ Trade Mission held last month by PROCOMER at the Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura in Cariari, west of the capital. The mission brought in more than 210 businesses from 34 countries to discuss potential trade and export possibilities with 270 Costa Rican companies. By the conclusion of the three-day event, Tico enterprises had negotiated an estimated $41 million in business with foreign companies.
During the same week, the heads of COMEX were in China for a third round of meetings with Chinese officials regarding a potential free-trade agreement. Though the finalization of the agreement is not expected until the first quarter of 2010, Costa Rica and China outlined their export and trade goals during the weeklong discussions. The free-trade agreement is expected to reduce import tariffs on products such as textiles and meat and encourage further Chinese investment in Costa Rica. China recently surpassed Germany as the world’s largest exporter of goods.
A week prior to meeting with China, COMEX also met with Singaporean officials for a third time to discuss a free-trade agreement it hopes to establish in early 2010.
“Free-trade agreements and free-trade zones promote fiscal incentives to business suppliers,” Hess said. “The establishment of those incentives boosts trade and investment from other countries. It creates a situation where both countries see significant benefits.”
In the months to come, both PROCOMER and COMEX have plans to further improve imports and exports. In December, PROCOMER intends to unveil a Web site dedicated to providing Costa Rican logistical information. The site will include statistics about businesses and detail their export costs, transportation methods and costs, and regulatory aspects of exporting. The site will be directed at investors, businesses and industry organizations.
PROCOMER has also announced it will bring another international event, Costa Rican Investment World, to the country April 14-15, 2010. The event aims to promote investment in some of the recently thriving sections of the export market, such as medical equipment, electronic and software devices and services, such as outsourcing. According to PROCOMER, it will be the first event dedicated entirely to investment in Latin America.
FDI Report Ranks C.R.
2nd in C.A. & Caribbean
Costa Rica was ranked the second most attractive country for foreign investors in the Central American and Caribbean region in a report released by FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) Magazine in August. The report, which ranked the region’s “foreign direct investment countries of the future,” evaluated 31 countries across seven categories to determine the final rankings. Costa Rica ranked in the top five in five of the categories, including first in human resources:
Economic potential – 3rd
Business friendliness – 4th
Quality of life – 5th
Human resources – 1st
FDI strategy – 2nd
Infrastructure – 6th
Cost effectiveness – Not in top 10
Other Central American countries ranking in the top 10 overall were Panama, fourth, Guatemala, fifth, and El Salvador, ninth. Puerto Rico was ranked first.