Costa Rica: A natural paradise for business growth

| March 22, 2016 | 0 Comments
San Jose, pictured here, is Latin America’s hub for companies looking to outsource. (Photo: © Mihai-bogdan Lazar | Dreamstime.com)

San Jose, pictured here, is Latin America’s hub for companies looking to outsource. (Photo: © Mihai-bogdan Lazar | Dreamstime.com)

Costa Rica, my country, has big dreams and aspirations for the well-being of fellow Costa Ricans and humankind. Our well-being has been possible because we live in the oldest democracy in Latin America and, like Canada, we are a nation committed to peace, education, health, solidarity and the promotion and defence of human rights and the environment. Like Canada, we are a country open to the world, with an enormous population of migrants living among us. Like Canada, we are committed to further developing our economy within sustainable business practices.
Bilingualism is of key importance to Costa Rica. In Latin America, we are the country that uses English-language skills most in the workplace and we are its top country in English proficiency in an academic setting.
Thanks to a highly talented and educated population, Costa Rica has been able to create a diversified and robust economy. Only 40 years ago, our economy relied heavily on agricultural products, which remain extremely important for our country and our culture. We still produce and export the best coffee in the world. We are the No. 1 exporter of pineapple and other agricultural products, which delight Canadians and international consumers and are produced in compliance with sustainable production practices.
That said, we have actively transformed our economy into one based on knowledge.
International services, software development, advanced light manufacturing and audiovisual production are booming. In 2015, medical devices became our main export. We host more than 75 international companies in the life-sciences sector. We have been champions in clinical research and recently enacted legislation that will cement our leading position in this sector. In 2014, the World Bank determined that Costa Rica is the biggest high-tech exporter of industrial products in Latin America (as a percentage of manufactured exports). And again, the World Economic Forum gave us first place in quality of labour relations (co-operation between employer and employee) in Latin America, as well as first place in innovation and business sophistication in 2014-2015. San Jose, our capital, is ranked as Latin America’s pre-eminent location for companies looking to outsource, according to Tholons, a strategic advisory firm.
The future is also bright. The Financial Times’ foreign direct investment (FDI) intelligence report in 2013 stated that we will be the No. 1 country for future FDI in Central America and the Caribbean. As you can see, now is the time to continue fostering business development and opportunities between our nations. We aspire to engage in value chains with more Canadian enterprises.
Medical travel has been on the rise. We receive approximately 50,000 visits for medical procedures per year. Our hospitals and clinics possess the required international accreditations and this has resulted in a new high-quality medical service industry. Meanwhile, the Global Tourism Monitor Survey named Costa Rica the most recommended tourism destination in the world from amongst 65 assessed countries.
Last year alone, we hosted more than 2.5 million visitors, the second largest group of which were Canadians. We have direct flights from Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. Costa Rica is a destination of choice for its quality, infrastructure, safety and certainly for our biggest assets — our friendly, educated people and our unique model of sustainable tourism. The latter attracts a responsible tourist who demands excellent service and unique natural beauty. Costa Rica offers both.
Summa magazine called Costa Rica the most popular destination in the world for adventure tourism and the most eco-friendly destination in the Americas.
Besides all the happy Canadians who visit every year, between 15,000 and 20,000 Canadians live among us.
It is no wonder hundreds of businesses have established bases in Costa Rica: Scotiabank, Four Seasons, the Konrad Group and Gildan Activewear Inc., to name a few Canadian corporations. Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Mondelez International Inc., Bacardi, Bosch, Abbott, Boston Scientific, VMware and Citi are some of the hundreds of companies that have invested in our country and employ members of the talented and reliable Costa Rican workforce.
Costa Rica has created the legal framework for a very open economy by entering into free-trade agreements, which give us access to 57 countries, 2.5 billion people and 66 percent of the world´s GDP. Costa Rica also provides a comprehensive tax holiday to those investing in strategic areas.
We are working hard in collaboration with different Canadian stakeholders to continue promoting business development between our nations.

Roberto Dormond-Cantu is ambassador of Costa Rica to Canada. Reach him at embcr-ca@rree.go.cr or 613-562-2855.

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Koviljka Spiric is ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Reach her at info@bhembassy.com or 613-236-0028 ext. 5.

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