Costa Rica

National theater San José, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica
Latin America & Caribbean

In many aspects, Costa Rica is a success story in terms of development. It is considered an upper middle-income country, which has shown a steady economic growth over the past 25 years. This growth resulted from an outward- oriented strategy, based on the openness to foreign investment and gradual trade liberalization.

Costa Rica is also a global leader for its environmental policies and accomplishments, which have helped the country build its Green Trademark. The pioneering Payments for Environmental Services (PES) program has been successful in promoting forest and biodiversity conservation; making Costa Rica the only tropical country in the world to have reversed deforestation.

The combination of political stability, social contract and steady growth has resulted in one of the lowest poverty rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the proportion of the population with incomes below US$ 5.5 per person per day decreased slightly from 12.9 to 10.6 percent between 2010 and 2019.

The success of the country in recent decades is also reflected in its strong indicators of human development, which have contributed to move the country up the global ranks, higher than the other countries in the region.

While these achievements are celebrated, the country faces economic and social challenges associated with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic which has hit hard Costa Rica, and  needs to continue building the foundations for restoring growth and continuing poverty reduction sustainably in the post-crisis.

Despite Costa Rica’s strong health system and timely crisis response, the pandemic had a heavy toll on its economy. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to have contracted 4.6 percent in 2020, the largest drop in four decades, driven by sharp declines in investment and private consumption. One out of five workers were unemployed by Q4 2020. Despite strong mitigation efforts, an estimated 124,000 people fell into poverty, lifting the poverty rate to 13 percent in 2020. The crisis also interrupt Costa Rica’s incipient fiscal consolidation built on important reforms in 2018 and 2019.

However, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to growth 2.6 percent in 2021, supported by improvement in external conditions, and recovering confidence of economic agents. As the vaccination campaign rolls out worldwide (and in Costa Rica), mobility restrictions are lifted and tourism fully recovers, growth is expected to accelerate to 3.3 percent by 2022. The recent accession to the OECD underpins structural reforms that further reinforce growth prospects.

In this context, two pressing development challenges stand out: the fiscal situation and persistent inequality. These challenges affect the basic pillars of the Costa Rican development model: inclusion, growth, and sustainability.

The government has strived to address these problems and is committed to an inclusive society that guarantees the welfare of its people, supported by transparent and accountable public institutions.

Source: World Bank, Costa Rica Country Overview

Investment OpportunitiesDescribes the number of investment opportunities in the country.
Most Affected SDGsDescribes the three priority SDGs the investment opportunities address in the country.
Life on Land (SDG 15) Life Below Water (SDG 14) Zero Hunger (SDG 2)
Priority Target SectorsDescribes the three priority sectors the investment opportunities address in the country, based on the SASB Sustainable Industry Classification System®️ (SICS®️) classification.
Food and Beverage, Health Care, Services
Ease of Doing Business ScoreDeveloped by the World Bank, the Ease of Doing Business Score helps assess the absolute level of regulatory performance over time. An economy’s ease of doing business score is reflected on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest and 100 represents the best performance.
See the World Bank Ease of Doing Business site for more information.
Human Development IndexDeveloped by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Human Development Index is a summary measure for assessing a country’s long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
See the UNDP Human Development Index site for more information.