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U.S. Companies May Be Forced To Shut Down Costa Rica Call Centers

The proposed bill in the U.S. could affect some 60,000 jobs in Costa Rica.

Clear Costa Rica Call Center Operations

Q COSTA RICA – A bill in the U.S. Congress aims to force call centers from nations like Costa Rica to return to the United States, worrying employers and workers, according to CNN.

The CNN Español report says the bill, introduced by a group of Democratic and Republican congressmen could force companies that outsource customer service outside the United States to return to the U.S.

Costa Rica and Nicaragua, that has a concentration of these call centers, may be greatly affected according to the report.


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The bill – which has the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) – was presented last March 2 to the Senate by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) with cosponsors Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and in the House by Representatives, David McKinley (R-WV) and Gene Green (D-TX).

From the CWA newsletter on March 2, 2017:

“Today, the ‘U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act’ was introduced in both the House and Senate, to protect workers and consumers and to curb the off-shoring of American jobs.

The legislation requires that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking, offer callers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S.-based center if preferred, and makes U.S. companies that off-shore their call center jobs ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans.”

In addition, the bill proposes that U.S. companies that outsource their customer services in other countries may not receive certain federal subsidies or taxpayer-financed loans, CNN said.



Is this a real threat?

Could this be the future of call centers in Costa Rica? Image for illustrative purposes from www.fastcodesign.com

Jorge Sequeira, director general of the Costa Rican Coalition for Development Initiatives (CINDE) – Coalición Costarricense de Iniciativas de Desarrollo – says that the issue should be taken seriously, although at the moment we should not worry.

Sequeira indicates that these bills or initiatives do not always have acceptance and that in the majority of the cases they undergo modifications.

However, youths in Costa Rica who depend on call centers of ‘higher than average pay’ employment depend on U.S. companies and their call centers are concerned of this possibility, although its reality is unlikely.

In Costa Rica, call centers generate some 60,000 jobs.

In Nicaragua, the Agencia de Promoción de las Inversiones de Nicaragua (ProNicaragua), for the end of 2015, says companies registered under the Zona Franca (Comisión Nacional de Zona Franca –  CNZF) regime employed 7,800 people in the Central American country; by the end of 2016, the number grew to 8,500. Also, between 2007 and 2016, the number of companies went from 17 to 42, serving mainly American and Canadian companies, in addition to European and Latin American businesses.

In addition, according to ProNicaragua, these companies generated more than US$100 million dollars in income to the country that same year.

Nicaraguan American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) president Álvaro Rodríguez, for example, told the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa last week that if this bill becomes a reality, the negative effect on the economy of his country would be very high. Rodríguez assured that they will do everything possible so that it is not approved. “We are going to support this so that it will not happen,” he said

Sources: Telenoticias; La Presna; CNN; CWA


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