Tourism and export sectors show strong first quarter

April 23, 2010

An overall strong showing by the Costa Rican economy during the first quarter of 2010 was underscored by figures showing significant growth in the export and tourism sectors. Furthermore, a representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated during a visit to the country that “economic recovery in Costa Rica is firmly underway”.

Marco Piñon, the IMF mission chief for Costa Rica, visited the country during the second week of April to conduct the third and final review of the IMF´s $ 735 million Stand-By Arrangement with the Costa Rican government, a line of credit approved by the agency in April 2009 to “support the country´s strategy to cope with the adverse global economic environment.” During his weeklong visit, Piñon said that thanks to strong financial and business resurgence in the first few months of the year, the Costa Rican economy stands in good shape for 2010.

“Economic growth rose in the second half of 2009 and remained strong in the first quarter of 2010,” Piñon said. “Consumer and business sentiment have firmed up and financial conditions have continued to improve. … The government´s strategy to shield the economy from external shocks with (IMF) funds, which in the event were not used, helped preserve confidence, maintain stability, and protect the most vulnerable groups. A supportive fiscal policy has provided a boost to the recovery and a cautious monetary policy has allowed inflation to move to low levels.”

On Wednesday, the positive outlook was reinforced by an announcement by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) that 65,800 more tourists visited the country during the first three months of 2010 than during the same period in 2009, an 11.5 percent improvement over last year. The ICT estimates that over 636,000 tourists visited the country in the first three months of 2010.

Further evidence of the recovery was provided by the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER), which reported on Wednesday that national exports during the first three months of 2010 increased 16.8 % in comparison with the first quarter of 2009. Through the first three months of the year, the country raked in over $2.4 billion in exports, $352 million more than during the first quarter of 2009. A 463 percent improvement in sugar sales was the biggest highlight of the export sector. Sugar exports accounted for $29 million more during the first three months of 2010 than during the same period last year.

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