San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Exports Finish Year on Positive Note

As year-end economic figures were announced for 2009, some sectors in Costa Rica see encouraging signs that the worst of the recession may be over.

The Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) released the final export numbers for 2009 and, though it was known that the numbers would be down from 2008, there were several positive figures suggesting that a recovery is on the way.

According to PROCOMER, exports fell by only 1.2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same time frame in 2008.

The small percentage drop was the lowest registered in 2009, as exports experienced declines of 14.9, 13.3 and 7.8 percent during the first three quarters of the year.

“It’ s important to emphasize that we are one of the few countries that has been able to avoid the toughest times of the international crisis,” said Marco Vinicio Ruiz, foreign trade minister. “The performance of exports in the fourth quarter of 2009 confirms there has been economic recovery. For that reason we are confident there will continue to be growth this year.”

For the year, exports from Costa Rica fell by $859 million, or 9 percent, from the all-time export high of 2008. In 2009, Costa Rica made $8.7 billion in worldwide exports.

According to PROCOMER, exports in the manufacturing and textile sectors fell considerably during the year. The decreases were attributed to less construction materials needed by other countries, as worldwide infrastructure was hindered much of the year.

Two sectors that experienced growth in 2009 were chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The export of medical equipment continues to see steady growth.

During the year, 36 percent of all exports from Costa Rica were shipped to the United States, accounting for $454 million, a 12.7 percent decrease from 2008.

In terms of the fourth quarter, certain products showed considerable growth, including milk, which saw exports jump by 41 percent, pineapple, which increased by 4.9 percent, melon, which rose by 11.6 percent, and fruit juices, up by 15 percent.

Significant export declines over the final three months of 2009 were bananas, down by 15 percent; coffee, down by 31.5 percent; ethyl alcohol; down by 50.6 percent; palm oil, down by 27 percent; and prepared fish, down by 19 percent.

–Adam Williams

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