Sunday 25 July 2021

U.S. plan to return Asian companies to the Americas could have benefits for Costa Rica

Former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, is one of the candidates seeking election as the next head of the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Latin America’s principal development finance institution

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(QCOSTARICA) A plan by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to encourage U.S. companies from that to return their operations from Asia to the Americas could benefit Costa Rica, according to the Association of Free Trade Zones of Costa Rica (Azofras) and the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex).

Life sciences and specialized services areas open investment options in Costa Rica, according to Comex and Azofras. Edwards Lifesciences manufactures heart valves in La Lima, Cartago. Photo: Rafael Pacheco

On July 29, Reuters reported that the Trump administration is working on a new initiative that would use financial incentives to encourage U.S. firms to move production facilities out of Asia and into the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The project could bring US$30 billion to US$50 billion in U.S. investment back to the Americas, Mauricio Claver-Carone told Reuters in an interview, adding that infrastructure, energy and transportation could be the first potential areas of focus.

“We’re essentially creating a ‘Back to the Americas’ initiative,” he said. That would include both reshoring to bring some investment to the United States and moving some investment to Latin America and the Caribbean – or so-called ‘nearshoring’ – Claver-Carone said.

Claver-Carone is the U.S. candidate to be the next head of the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) – (in Spanish, Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo – BID) – Latin America’s principal development finance institution, a position that is also sought by the former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014).

The IDB has set the date for its next annual meeting on March 17-21, 2021 in Barranquilla, Colombia, but it still plans to name a new president in September this year, it said in a press release last week.

The proposal also jumps at times of strong retaliation between the governments of the United States and China, whose relations have deteriorated in recent days, on multiple fronts, such as the repression in Hong Kong with the entry into force of a controversial security law, the COVID-19 pandemic and tensions in the South China Sea.

The Minister of Foreign Trade, Dyalá Jiménez, and the president Azofras, Carlos Wong, warned that the country has advantages to take advantage of this situation but must speed up reforms because it is a conjunctural situation.

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According to Minister Jiménez, Costa Rica is always closely monitoring the policies and strategies of other countries to predict, as far as possible, the projections that companies have for their investments in the global economy.

Jiménez explained that Costa Rica is positioning itself increasingly stronger as a center of life sciences, wellness and innovation. She added that with certain reforms that are promoted in the Legislative Assembly, the country can be positioned in other sectors, such as light manufacturing, and in services for research and development.

In this way, Costa Rica will increasingly become a very reliable destination, with an enviable commercial platform and with a human talent prepared at a higher than average level, said the Minister.

The country is also working, she explained, in improving the supply of local services for multinational companies, which would generate greater linkages.

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Wong agreed with the Minister on the need to approve the modernization projects of the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (INA) – National Institute of Learning, the reform of the National Council of Higher Private University Education (Conesup) and the improvement of the regulatory framework for telecommunications.

Logistics, ease of business execution and legal certainty will be key in the race to capture investments, Wong recalled. In this, he declared, Costa Rica is a strong competitor, but it is also necessary to advance in the project to make working hours more flexible.

For Wong, opportunities will be opened in medical devices and in a range of services such as cybersecurity, electronic commerce, with digital content and in the telecommunications area.

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