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Costa Rica Economy Profile

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Economy - overview

Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 3.8% in 2017. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity also 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), which became effective for Costa Rica in 2009, helped increase foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including insurance and telecommunication. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, a complex bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and uncertainty of contract enforcement impede greater investment.

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 government’s strong social safety net has eroded due to increased constraints on its expenditures. Costa Rica’s credit rating was downgraded from stable to negative in 2015 and again in 2017, upping pressure on lending rates - which could hurt small business, on the budget deficit - which could hurt infrastructure development, and on the rate of return on investment - which could soften foreign direct investment (FDI). Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances - which represented just 1 % of GDP in 2016, but instead relies on FDI - which accounted for 5.1% of GDP.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$83.94 billion (2017 est.)
$81.27 billion (2016 est.)
$77.96 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$58.27 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
3.3% (2017 est.)
4.2% (2016 est.)
3.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$16,900 (2017 est.)
$16,600 (2016 est.)
$16,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving
15.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
16.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
15% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 64.2% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 17.3% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 17.1% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 1% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 33.3% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -32.9% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 5.5% (2017 est.)
industry: 20.6% (2017 est.)
services: 73.9% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
21.7% (2014 est.)
Labor force
1.843 million (2020 est.)

note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica

Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 14%
industry: 22%
services: 64% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate
8.1% (2017 est.)
9.5% (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 20.6%
male: 17.6%
female: 25.9% (2017 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 1.5%
highest 10%: 36.9% (2014 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
48.5 (2014)
49.2 (2013)
Budget
revenues: 8.357 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 11.92 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
14.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-6.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt
48.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
1.6% (2017 est.)
0% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate
3.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
21.5% (31 December 2010)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
11.37% (31 December 2017 est.)
11.64% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$5.356 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.63 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$5.356 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.63 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$41.04 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$38.21 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$2.015 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.443 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.445 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Agriculture - products
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar, corn, rice, beans, potatoes; beef, poultry, dairy; timber
Industries
medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products
Industrial production growth rate
1.3% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$1.692 billion (2017 est.)
-$1.326 billion (2016 est.)
Exports
$10.81 billion (2017 est.)
$10.15 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; beef; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment
Exports - partners
US 40.9%, Belgium 6.3%, Panama 5.6%, Netherlands 5.6%, Nicaragua 5.1%, Guatemala 5% (2017)
Imports
$15.15 billion (2017 est.)
$14.53 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
raw materials, consumer goods, capital equipment, petroleum, construction materials
Imports - partners
US 38.1%, China 13.1%, Mexico 7.3% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$7.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$7.574 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external
$26.83 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$24.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$33.92 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$31.84 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$4.007 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$3.781 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -
573.5 (2017 est.)
544.74 (2016 est.)
544.74 (2015 est.)
534.57 (2014 est.)
538.32 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on Friday, November 27, 2020

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