San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Free-Trade Zone to Break Ground

Promoters of the first free-trade zone in the Caribbean province of Limón will break ground this month. The free-trade zone, to be located in the community of Búfalo, will be large enough to host the manufacturing operations of 12 companies.

The free-trade zone will be administered by Guanazul JRV S.A.

The new zone comes after a December 2009 reform of the law governing areas that provide incentives such as tax breaks to attract companies to set up operations in less developed and less populated areas of the country. Most of the 247 companies operating in free-trade zones are based in the Central Valley.

Free-trade zones offer companies the opportunity to import and export goods without barriers such as quotas or tariffs. Countries use them to attract foreign investment, critical for developing countries like Costa Rica. In 2008, companies operating in free-trade zones in Costa Rica accounted for $4.98 billion in exports, more than 54 percent of the country’s total.

To start operations in the new Limón free-trade zone, a minimum investment of $100,000 is required.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla recently said she aims to bring in $9 billion in foreign direct investment during her presidential term.

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