San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Rural Exports Bucked Downward Trend in 2009

The smaller exporters in Costa Rica had a big year in 2009, according to a report issued this week by the Chamber of Exporters (CADEXCO).

In a year in which national exports fell by 9 percent, CADEXCO reported that rural Costa Rican exports increased by 9.61 percent in 2009, earning more than $2.5 billion.

Rural exporters who sell agricultural products – everything from pineapples to  houseplants – grown outside of the Central Valley shipped an estimated 1,141 products to 256 international destinations.

Of these exporters, southern Costa Rica’s Brunca region saw the biggest increase in exports, improving by17.3 percent compared to the previous year.

According to the study, exports of palm oil in the region increased by 35 percent, the exports of pineapple rose by 2.2 percent and the export of seeds to plant walnuts and almonds quadrupled.

Exports from the Huetar Norte region, in the northern part of the country, also experienced significant growth, shipping out 17 percent more products than it did in 2008. In this region, exports of pineapple grew by 24 percent, cassava (or yucca) by 82 percent and ornamental plants by 65 percent. These were the fastest growing exports of 2009, chamber officials said.

“The data is clear and it reflects the productive importance of these regions,” said Sergio Navas, executive vice president of CADEXCO. “This reinforces the call to multiply and strengthen small- and medium-sized businesses in order to attract new investments under the reform of the free-trade zone laws.”

The reform of the free-trade zone law, passed in December of last year and signed in January, grants tax breaks to businesses that choose to set up operations in areas outside of the Central Valley (TT, Dec. 24, 2009). Members of Costa Rican trade boards have begun to promote the benefits of the reformed law to potential investors or  companies interested in establishing operations in the country.

According to CADEXCO, 27 percent of all exports from Costa Rica are sent from the Central Valley.

In a report released last month, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office announced that national exports fell by 9 percent in 2009. Costa Rica made $8.7 billion in national exports last year, down $859 million from 2008.

–Adam Williams

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