Overview: Trade Relations Between the United States and Costa Rica

The United States and Costa Rica have maintained a relatively close trade relationship throughout its history. According to the Embassy of the US in Costa Rica, this relationship was born in 1851 and reinforced in 1852, when the “Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation” between both countries came into effect.

Interactions between both countries cover diverse trade matters and allow them to benefit and strengthen their commercial and diplomatic relations. Costa Rica receives from the US government collaboration on mainly maritime security issues where there are joint patrol agreements and for which Costa Rica received a donation of around 40.7 million dollars in 2019.

Likewise, there is mutual cooperation on environmental and conservation matters, reflected in the economic contributions called “debt swaps” through which the United States forgave Costa Rica’s debt on the condition that it invest in environmental protection and conservation of tropical forests. Learn about the most important aspects of trade relations between the US and Costa Rica. 

Cooperation strategy with Costa Rica

The ‘United States Integrated Country Strategy for Costa Rica‘ seeks to develop a common set of objectives in which the State Department and other US agencies, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), can participate. This strategy concentrates mostly on the following aspects:

costa rica US trade and diplomatic relations focus on security, commercial and environmental matters.
“Our countries must continue to focus on the goal we have in common”

Citizen security

Among the donations and resources received by Costa Rica from the US in terms of security, the country has received economic donations, ground equipment, armoured vehicles, helicopters, planes, ground radars, and boats. 

In 2013, the United States Embassy charge d’affaires – Gonzalo Gallegos – stated that: “Our countries (The United States and Costa) must continue to focus on the goal we have in common: “Create a world-class coast guard, capable of monitoring Costa Rica’s vast maritime territory and protect it from any threat.”

Promote Costa Rica’s governance and prosperity

By supporting sustained economic and commercial growth, prosperity is sought to benefit both countries. The constant stability of Costa Rica’s political and economic environment is of great importance for the same prosperity of the United States, according to the Integrated Country Strategy (ICS).

Regional foreign policy objectives

The government of the United States encourages Costa Rica to be a world reference in democratic and human rights issues. It also supports Costa Rica to play a leading role in promoting shared priorities between these two countries. Likewise, authorities from both countries work closely with a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental agencies to, among other things, secure Costa Rica’s borders, professionalize police forces, and strengthen justice. 

Current trends in business relationships

According to data from the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade, the country currently has 15 current trade agreements, which are listed below:

Costa Rica currently has 15 current trade agreements
Costa Rica currently has reached 15 trade agreements with multiple countries.
  • Association of European Free Trade European Free Trade Association.
  • FTA Dominican Republic-Central America- United States, CAFTA-DR.
  • Canada.
  • CARICOM.
  • Central America.
  • Chile.
  • China.
  • Colombia.
  • Korea.
  • Mexico.
  • Panama.
  • Peru.
  • The Dominican Republic.
  • Singapore.
  • European Union (AACUE).

Furthermore, Costa Rica’s 3 largest buyers, according to the Foreign Trade Promoter, the United States, Europe, and Central America, who distributed their purchases in 2018 in the following proportions:

1.The United States $US3,434 million, which represents 41%.
2.Europe $US1,845 million, which represents 22%.
3.Central America $US1,369 million, which represents 16%.

Factual data on business opportunities between Costa Rica and the United States

As is already known, the trade flow between both countries is quite robust. According to the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer), Costa Rica offers qualified personnel to at least 250 multinational companies. The country also exports qualified staff to more than 150 countries. New business opportunities between Costa Rica and the United States are reflected in the technology, medical, and services sector.

Additionally, citizens of Costa Rica could be categorized by the United States as low-risk travelers. This means that around 300,000 Costa Rican travelers could apply a migration and customs process from the same departure airport in Costa Rica, the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia (LIR) and the Juan Santa María International Airport (SJO).

Take advantage of businesss opportunities in Costa Rica

At Biz Latin Hub, we offer a full suite of market entry and back-office services designed to help you take advantage of trade relations between the United States and Costa Rica. Our multilingual team of experienced lawyers and business experts are equipped to deliver excellence, guidance, support, and help you to make the best decision when entering new markets. Reach out to us today to receive personalized assistance on how to incorporate a company in Central America.

Learn more about our team and expert authors.

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