How does the U.S. Embassy helpU.S. and local businesses?The U.S. Commercial Service(USCS) at the U.S. Embassy in SanJosé provides assistance to U.S.companies looking to enter theCosta Rican market. Its mission isto promote the export of goods andservices from the United States,protect U.S. business interestsabroad and assist small and medium-sized companies to achieveexport success. USCS serves as therepresentative for other U.S. government agencies such asthe U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Overseas PrivateInvestment Corporation and the Trade DevelopmentAgency.The service’s business philosophy is to provide timely,relevant, customized business solutions for its U.S. andlocal clients by offering a combination of cost-effectiveservices, including identifying local representatives forU.S. products and services; arranging meetings with visitingU.S. businesses and trade delegations (“Gold KeyService”); promoting U.S. trade shows; preparing marketresearch for companies; and providing video-conferencingservices to connect businesses with potential partners orclients. Those interested in USCS services or needing productsor services from the United States can contact USCSby e-mail at San.JoseCR.Office.Box@mail.doc.gov orvisit www.buyusa.gov/costarica/en.The USCS Web site provides access to our BusinessSupport Network, an experienced group of firms that offeruseful services ranging from legal assistance and accountingto real estate and banking for U.S. exporters andinvestors interested in Costa Rica. On the Spanish page(www.buyusa.gov/costarica/es) is the Featured U.S.Exporters (FUSE) program, which allows U.S. companiesto post a listing of their products or product lines completewith graphics and links, and includes a contact point at theUSCS office where interested business partners can call forinformation.Business Facilitation Services range from local officeservices to management and logistics of specific events,such as press conferences, luncheons, dinners, seminars,public relations and other strategic activities. USCS staffcan provide a Video Market Briefing about Costa Rica’seconomic/commercial environment, and information onhow to market U.S. products and services here. CommercialNews USA, an online magazine for U.S.-made productsand services, can be read at www.export.gov/cnusa orrequested in hard copy from the USCS office. An InternationalPartner Search can save time and money by eliminatingthe need for cold calling, expensive trade-showtravel and foreign advertising. Using individual companyliterature, USCS staff will contact key players in the sectorin Costa Rica and deliver a pre-qualified list of potentialtrading partners.What kind of assistance does the United States give toCosta Rica?Because of its relatively high level of development,Costa Rica “graduated” from the United States’ formalbilateral aid program administered by the U.S. Agency forInternational Development (USAID) in 1994. However,Costa Rica still continues to receive assistance fromUSAID regional programs, as well as from the StateDepartment and other U.S. government agencies.Last year alone, the U.S. government provided morethan $8 million in assistance to Costa Rica. These fundshave benefited Costa Rica in a variety of areas, includingprojects to promote education, agricultural growth, environmentalprotection and rural development. Other projectshave focused on combating drug trafficking, providing disasterassistance and building trade capacity.Narcotics and law enforcement are areas of especiallyclose and productive cooperation between the UnitedStates and Costa Rica. Together, the U.S. State Department,Department of Defense and Drug Enforcement Agencyhave provided more than $400,000 to supply equipmentand training for Costa Rican law-enforcement officials.Agricultural and environmental issues are anothermajor focus of U.S. assistance to Costa Rica. Last year, theU.S. Department of Agriculture and USAID provided nearly$1 million to help Costa Rica produce and inspect agriculturalproducts for export, make Costa Rican productsmore competitive, and better the standard of living for ruralfarmers. The U.S. government also spent more than $2.1million in environmental programs in Costa Rica to helpprotect its biodiversity, further weather and climateresearch, and encourage recycling.Education and community development are also importantaspects of U.S. assistance to Costa Rica. Last year, theU.S. government spent nearly $2.3 million on programs topromote education, including Fulbright scholarships andEnglish-language programs. Additionally, the Peace Corpsspends approximately $1 million annually to provide anaverage of 60 volunteers to work in rural community developmentand children and family issues, and teach Englishthroughout Costa Rica.If you have questions you would like to see addressedin future columns, please contact the U.S. Embassy firstname.lastname@example.org.