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Costa Rica: Economy#

Prior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted 1.3% in 2009 but resumed growth at about 4.5% per year in 2010-12. While the traditional agricultural exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are still the backbone of commodity export trade, a variety of industrial and specialized agricultural products have broadened export trade in recent years. High value-added goods and services, including microchips, have further bolstered exports. Tourism continues to bring in foreign exchange, as Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity makes it a key destination for ecotourism. Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; and Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. However, many business impediments remain, such as high levels of bureaucracy, legal uncertainty due to overlapping and at times conflicting responsibilities between agencies, difficulty of enforcing contracts, and weak investor protection. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the strong social safety net that had been put into place by the government has eroded due to increased financial constraints on government expenditures. Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances as they only represent about 2% of GDP. Immigration from Nicaragua has increasingly become a concern for the government. The estimated 300,000-500,000 Nicaraguans in Costa Rica legally and illegally are an important source of mostly unskilled labor but also place heavy demands on the social welfare system. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) entered into force on 1 January 2009 after significant delays within the Costa Rican legislature. CAFTA-DR has increased foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including the insurance and telecommunications sectors recently opened to private investors. President CHINCHILLA was not able to gain legislative approval for fiscal reform, her top priority, though she continued to pursue fiscal reform in 2012. President CHINCHILLA and the PLN were successful in passing a tax on corporations to fund an increase for security services.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$61.43 billion (2013 est.)
$59.35 billion (2012 est.)
$56.45 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - real growth rate3.5% (2013 est.)
5.1% (2012 est.)
4.4% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$12,900 (2013 est.)
$12,700 (2012 est.)
$12,200 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 6.2%
industry: 21.3%
services: 72.5% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line24.8% (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 39.5% (2009 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)
Exports - commoditiesbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Exports - partnersUS 38.9%, Netherlands 7.5%, Panama 5.1%, Hong Kong 4.6%, Nicaragua 4.4% (2012)
Agriculture - productsbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
Budgetrevenues: $7.197 billion
expenditures: $9.621 billion (2013 est.)
Imports - commoditiesraw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
Imports - partnersUS 49.8%, China 8.2%, Mexico 6.6% (2012)
Exchange ratesCosta Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -
500.9 (2013 est.)
502.9 (2012 est.)
525.83 (2010 est.)
573.29 (2009)
530.41 (2008)
Exports$11.66 billion (2013 est.)
$11.44 billion (2012 est.)
Debt - external$15.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$13.81 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Imports$17.56 billion (2013 est.)
$16.75 billion (2012 est.)
Industrial production growth rate4.3% (2013 est.)
Industriesmicroprocessors, food processing, medical equipment, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Inflation rate (consumer prices)5.6% (2013 est.)
4.5% (2012 est.)
Labor force2.222 million
note: this official estimate excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate7.9% (2013 est.)
7.8% (2012 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index50.3 (2009)
45.9 (1997)
Public debt55% of GDP (2013 est.)
51.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
Current account balance-$2.673 billion (2013 est.)
-$2.341 billion (2012 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$7.406 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$6.857 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$48.51 billion (2013 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$21.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$18.98 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$1.681 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.481 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$2.015 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.443 billion (31 December 2011)
$1.445 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate$NA (31 December 2010 est.)
23% (31 December 2009 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate$NA (31 December 2013 est.)
$NA (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$22.92 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$21.93 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money$4.633 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$4.197 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money$14.57 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$14.95 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Taxes and other revenues14.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-5% of GDP (2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 64.7%
government consumption: 17.9%
investment in fixed capital: 20.9%
investment in inventories: 0.8%
exports of goods and services: 35.2%
imports of goods and services: -39.5%
(2013 est.)
Gross national saving16.3% of GDP (2013 est.)
15.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
16.2% of GDP (2011 est.)