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Half of foreign investment in Costa Rica concentrated in San José and Escazú

Local development agencies demand actions to redirect external resources outside the Greater Metropolitan Area

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21 May 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – The cantons of San José and Escazú are the favorite for almost half of (48.4%) of Foreign Direct  Investment (FDI) in Costa Rica during the past year, with the highest participation, 35.9% for San José. In Escazú, the DFI is 12.5%

Biomerics, a leading contract manufacturer for the interventional device market, is one of the companies that settled in the country with a view to expanding its global business. (Casa Presidencial)

In other areas such as Alajuela, Belén and Heredia, also preferred by investors, it is 9.1%, 7.3%, and 6.1% respectively.

The data was published on April 9 by the Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR) – Central Bank, as part of the Índice Mensual de Actividad Económica (IMAE) – Monthly Index of Economic Activity, report for the month of February.

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“This poses the challenge of providing companies with conditions so that (foreign) direct investment is also directed towards other areas of the country. It constitutes a determining factor for the development of an economy, as it has positive impacts in various areas,” the Central Bank said in the report.

On April 7, representatives of the Red Nacional de Agencias de Desarrollo Local (Renadel) – National Network of Local Development Agencies, urged the Legislative Assembly to advance in the approval of a bill that proposes incentives to improve competitiveness in areas outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).

For Renadel, the initiative would develop productive chains, streamline procedures for the arrival of new companies and generate local capacities to create formal and quality jobs in towns such as Turrialba, Cartago, Pérez Zeledón, the Caribbean zone, among others.

“This project is a concrete response to economic reactivation for the areas that have not yet recovered from the crisis and that have been relegated for so long, (…) it will help us lower the extremely high percentage of unemployment with which we have maintained since before the pandemic,” said Roberto Zeledón, president of Renadel.

However, time is running out for the current Legislature, as legislators have a few weeks to study the motions presented to the initiative and advance the process before the change takes place on May 1.

Growth industry: medical technology has become a key part of Costa Rica’s economy

Zonas Francas (Free trade zone)

The evolution of FDI  in Costa Rica maintains a favorable trend towards special regimes such as Zonas Francas.

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For  2021 and despite the economic effects of the pandemic, FDI in special regimes was US$2.6 billion. Last March, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Mauricio Claver-Carone, assured that Central America has a historic and unique opportunity to attract companies from Asia.

“Nearshoring… I think it’s a historic opportunity. The reconfiguration of global supply chains has created this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Central American countries to attract investment,” Claver-Carone said, according to an article in La Nacion on March 8.

Last year Costa Rica took advantage of this opportunity and attracted a total of 103 foreign companies to its territory through the Coalición Costarricense de Iniciativas de Desarrollo (CINDE) –  Costa Rica Investment Promotion Agency. The figure represented 20% more than during 2020.

“The achievements of 2021 show that Costa Rica has the potential to continue growing and positioning itself internationally as a destination for attracting sustainable investment that is projected through our value proposition based on people, planet, and prosperity,” commented last December the president of CINDE, Eric Scharf.

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The country’s potential is also reflected in results such as those of the 2020 Greenfield Performance Index, which indicated that Costa Rica was the country that attracted the most new foreign direct investment in the world for that year with respect to the size of its economy.

In the foreign investment received in 2021, the medical and dental implements industry stood out, which is constituted as the activity with the highest percentage of added value. The second place was occupied by the production of inputs for other industries, such as concentrates for the food industry, which are used for the preparation of beverages and juices.

Regarding direct investment balances in service activities under special regimes, they are concentrated in financial management consultancy and business support activities. There are also information technology and research and development, industries that drove the growth observed in exports of services under special regimes.

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