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Costa Rica Economy Profile 2016

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Economy - overviewPrior to the global economic crisis, Costa Rica enjoyed stable economic growth. The economy contracted in 2009 but resumed growth at about 4% per year in 2010-15. While 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 medical devices, 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; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. 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. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and legal uncertainty due to the difficulty of enforcing contracts and overlapping and at times conflicting responsibilities between agencies, remain impediments to greater competitiveness.

Costa Rica’s economy also faces challenges due to a rising fiscal deficit, rising public debt, and relatively low levels of domestic revenue. 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, which in 2014 represented 1% 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$74.89 billion (2015 est.)
$72.23 billion (2014 est.)
$70.15 billion (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$52.9 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate3.7% (2015 est.)
3% (2014 est.)
1.8% (2013 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$15,500 (2015 est.)
$15,100 (2014 est.)
$14,900 (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars
Gross national saving15.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
14.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
13.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 64.8%
government consumption: 17.5%
investment in fixed capital: 21.9%
investment in inventories: -0.6%
exports of goods and services: 30.1%
imports of goods and services: -33.7% (2015 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 6%
industry: 19.7%
services: 74.3% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line24.8% (2011 est.)
Labor force2.268 million
note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica (2015 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate8.7% (2015 est.)
8.6% (2014 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 25%
male: 21.3%
female: 31.4% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 39.5% (2009 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index50.3 (2009)
45.9 (1997)
Budgetrevenues: $7.5 billion
expenditures: $10.64 billion (2015 est.)
Taxes and other revenues14.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-6.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
Public debt59.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
56.8% of GDP (2014 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.8% (2015 est.)
4.5% (2014 est.)
Central bank discount rate21.5% (31 December 2010)
23% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate16.1% (31 December 2015 est.)
14.9% (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of narrow money$5.119 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$4.643 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of broad money$21.55 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$18 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$35.07 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$27.25 billion (31 December 2014 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.)
Agriculture - productsbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
Industriesmedical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Industrial production growth rate3.6% (2015 est.)
Current Account Balance-$2.135 billion (2015 est.)
-$2.34 billion (2014 est.)
Exports$9.756 billion (2015 est.)
$11.14 billion (2014 est.)
Exports - commoditiesbananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Exports - partnersUS 33.6%, China 6.2%, Mexico 4.6%, Nicaragua 4.3%, Netherlands 4.2%, Guatemala 4% (2015)
Imports$15.44 billion (2015 est.)
$16.35 billion (2014 est.)
Imports - commoditiesraw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
Imports - partnersUS 45.3%, China 9.8%, Mexico 7.1% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$7.578 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.211 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Debt - external$19.43 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$17.65 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$27.63 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$24.66 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$2.999 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$2.799 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Exchange ratesCosta Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -
535 (2015 est.)
538.32 (2014 est.)
538.32 (2013 est.)
502.9 (2012 est.)
505.66 (2011 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on October 8, 2016

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