Monday 18 October 2021

What Does China Really Want With Costa Rica?

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QCOSTARICA BLOG  – The relationship between Costa Rica and China is somewhat like comparing an elephant with a flea. China has a population of around two billion people, while Costa Rica has a population of around four and one-half million people.

China has a massive territory, while Costa Rica has the approximate size of one and one-half times the size of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where I am originally from in Canada. The question has to be, of what possible economic, or strategic interest could Costa Rica be to China?

Obviously, Costa Rica is a very small market for Chinese manufactured goods and the entire annual banana and coffee production of Costa Rica, could probably be consumed in a matter of a few days by the enormous Chinese population.

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From a strategic standpoint, it would appear to be more in China’s interests to ally themselves with Nicaragua, with the new ship canal under construction, although the official Chinese Government “line”, is that they have no connection with the private Chinese company which is undertaking the project. Hmmm!

The only realistic economic advantage for China in a relationship with Costa Rica, is that Chinese goods will be able to enter Costa Rica, to specified Free Trade Zones, be slightly “re-manufactured” and labeled “Made in Costa Rica”, in order that the goods can be shipped to the U.S. market under the Free Trade Agreement (TLC) that exists between Costa Rica and the U.S. This, of course, will indirectly increase China’s market share in the U.S., by subverting the quota restrictions that would otherwise apply to such goods being shipped to the U.S., directly from China.

There will be some tourism benefits enjoyed by Costa Rica from this enhanced relationship with China, however, in my opinion, these benefits may be short-lived, as Costa Ricans have traditionally discriminated against people with an Oriental background (Negro as well, for that matter). Accordingly, the”bloom may be off the rose” in a very short period of time in that regard.

China may also donate a few more free police cruisers (without spare parts), enter into a highway building project, or two, and possibly even finance an oil refinery to be built in Costa Rica, all for the sole purpose of securing an increased market share in the U.S., for Chinese manufactured goods.

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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney; Email:, Website:

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