Economy Of Costa Rica

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Economy Of Costa Rica

Reviewed by Lief Simon

Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

Costa Rica banknotes and background with american dollar bills. economy of costa rica
AdobeStock/FranciscoJavier

The economy of Costa Rica has enjoyed solid growth since it recovered from the global economic crisis.

Even before its contraction in 2009, Costa Rica has maintained an average economic growth of about 3.58% up until 2016.

Forecasts claim the economy of Costa Rica will keep a strong pace, with household consumption and growing exports for 2017.

What Is Costa Rica’s Economy Made Of?

In recent years, the economy backs itself primarily by services, accounting for 63% of GDP. Those services are segmented as following: communications, transport, and warehousing with 16%. Hotels, restaurants, and trade with 15%, and personal, social, and community services representing 9%.

Quarry, mining, and manufacturing account for 21% of the wealth in Costa Rica.

Agriculture, forestry, livestock, and fishing have taken a secondary role in GDP, but are still one of the bases of the export trade.

Goods and services of high value further strengthen exports. These include medical services like surgery, dentistry, and also tourism.

With a land as rich in biodiversity, Costa Rica is bolstered as a top ecotourism destination. Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region. For 2016, the projected number of visitors estimates around 2.9 million visitors. That’s the triple of visitors the country saw in 1999.

The government has made some efforts to attract foreign investors. They are mainly attracted by the relatively high educational levels, political stability, and many incentives like the free-trade zones. Thus, Costa Rica has amassed one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment in Latin America.

Challenges Of The Costa Rican Economy

Still, Costa Rica’s economy has a long way to go. Fiscal policies are old and ineffective.

The fiscal performance has actually improved in recent years due to better tax collection and spending control. Even so, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) stated that a fiscal reform in Costa Rica is urgent.

Social inequality is stark in Costa Rica, and unemployment rose to almost 10% in 2016’s third quarter.

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Even with great numbers for projected growth, the country needs to promote innovation for infrastructure (One of Costa Rica’s weak points), access to finance, and competition.

They will need this consequently in order to decrease inequality, unemployment, and share prosperity more equitably.

Education, while high in average against the region, still aims at fulfilling corporate and public jobs. This worsens the slow innovation and local entrepreneurship problem.

As a result, it creates a culture of conservative mindsets, which prefer the stability of paid jobs.

Lot Of Opportunities

Economy in Costa Rica has still plenty of opportunity for the entrepreneur that is forward thinking and a risk taker.

International trade agreements have created job growth in industrial, telecommunications, and manufacturing sectors. These are attracting eCommerce and services startups that cater to a growing middle class.

While financing and legal processes are still a liability, the region experiments exponential growth, and experts expect continued growth throughout the decade.

Internet use has a projected growth of almost 50% in the coming half decade.

Online national and international transactions are growing, and need platforms to support themselves.

There’s opportunity to supply innovation in products, HR management, and business outsourcing. Access to new technologies, software development, and marketing services will see higher demand.

Investing in real estate could have positive opportunities at full spectrum: condo projects, residential, agriculture, etc. This rings true, as new projects to expand and renovate access areas and roads are already underway in the country.

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Costa Rica's Economy Statistics

GDP (purchasing power parity) (2024)US$$153.69 billion
GDP per capita (2024)US$13,961
Real annual growth rate (2024)3.2%
Inflation (2024)2.8%
Unemployment (2024)9.8%
Agriculturebananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
Labor forceagriculture: 14%,industry: 22%,services: 64%
Industriesmedical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Exports (Dec. 2023)$14.22 billion
Export – commoditiesbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Imports (Dec. 2023)$18.46 billion
Import – commoditiesraw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
Top Export Partners (Dec. 2023)US 44%, Netherlands 7.8%, Belgium 5.2%, Guatemala 5.4%, Panama 3.9% (2023)
Top Import PartnersUS 39%, China 15%, Mexico 6.3%, Guatemala 2.7%, Brazil 2.6%

Costa Rica - FAQs

What Is Living In Costa Rica Like?

Costa Rica is one of the more laid-back countries you can visit.

The lifestyle revolves around the spectacular countryside. Where you find pristine white-sand beaches and tropical jungles, full of birds, plants, and other wildlife.

Most expats choose to base themselves either in the mountainous coffee regions, or by close to the beach.

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