Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 7/31/2017
  • Costa Rica’s stable government, democratic traditions, and commercial promotion efforts have made it a leader in the region for international business and tourism.  Costa Rica boasts ports on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and two international airports, one in the Central Valley serving San Jose metropolitan area and one in Liberia, close to major tourist developments along the Guanacaste coast.  Dutch-based APM Terminals is expected to open a port on the Caribbean coast in mid-2018. A major new hydroelectric project “Reventazon” opened in 2016. Costa Rica has a network of free trade zones throughout the country, and the number of international companies investing in Costa Rica continues to increase. 
  • The United States remains Costa Rica’s largest trading partner and Costa Rica’s largest foreign direct investor.  In 2016, the U.S. had a US$1.6 billion trade surplus with Costa RicaForeign direct investment in Costa Rica reached US$2.85 billion in 2015.  Nearly 53% of that investment came from the United States. 
  • Costa Rica ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with the U.S. in 2009.  This free trade agreement eliminated most of the tariffs for non-agricultural imports immediately and has made both trade and investment in the region more attractive to U.S. companies. 
  • The Costa Rican labor force is relatively well-educated compared to other countries in Central America.  The country claims a literacy rate of 97-98 percent, and English is widely spoken particularly among the young and in Costa Rica’s tourism industry.
  • In recent years due to rising government debt, the major credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch - have downgraded Costa Rica’s risk ratings.  The country is currently debating major fiscal reform legislation to cut the large budget deficits that cause the burgeoning debt.
  • Costa Rica announced its intention to become an OECD member in 2013 and since then has been actively working with the OECD toward accession.  In 2015, Costa Rica released its roadmap to accession and is currently working with over 20 OECD committees to adopt policy changes that will bring Costa Rica’s practices and laws into compliance with the OECD. Costa Rica has taken an important step on the road to OECD membership by completing the process to become a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Costa Rica will become the 43rd Party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention on July 2017, 60 days after the deposit of its instrument of accession.
  • There are no controls on capital flows in or out of Costa Rica or on portfolio investment in publicly traded companies but companies are subject to local taxes.  Foreigners can own property with no title restrictions, although special care must be taken to comply with laws governing coastal areas.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Costa Rica Trade Development and Promotion