Costa Rica’s exports between January and September grew 5.5 percent over the same period last year, according to the Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX).
That adds up to a total of $7.3 billion in exports, an increase of $385.6 million over the first nine months of 2007.
Despite a worsening global economy and serious troubles in the United States – Costa Rica’s principal trade partner – export growth has slowed by just 0.1 percent since last month.
“Costa Rican exports have managed to dodge the current crisis,” the ministry said in a statement.
COMEX said value-added products and market niches have helped Costa Rica weather the crisis.
Exports to the United States grew 1.8 percent in the first nine months of this year, representing an increase of $49.5 million.
This growth was largely pushed by exports of computer parts, medical implants, tires and pineapple.
Banana exports and textile exports to the United States, however, have fallen. Exports have grown more to Caribbean nations – principally the Dominican Republic, where exports grew by 38 percent – the European Union (up 18.2 percent) and Central America (up 14.4 percent).
Costa Rica’s agricultural sector has grown most, increasing exports by more than 12 percent. This is thanks largely to a 58 percent growth in yuca (cassava) exports, 29.2 percent increase in coffee exports and 23.6 percent more pineapple exports.
Melon exports, meanwhile, fell by 18.1 percent, and sugar exports declined by 46.9 percent.
Other sectors that grew through September include pork, poultry and beef exports (11.6 percent), food (3.8 percent) and manufacturing (3.6 percent).
Within manufacturing, medical implants are the star of the year with an increase of 404 percent between January and September.
Exporters, particularly in the manufacturing sector, have publicly fretted that the delay in enacting the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) could devastate growth.
As of September, textile exports had fallen by 24.7 percent, integrated circuits and electric microstructures had fallen 23.8 percent, and transfusion and infusion equipment had fallen 5 percent.
Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz said that while export numbers still appear good, he has “no doubt” the recently approved free-trade agreement with Panama, along with CAFTA will “become revitalizing instruments for Costa Rica’s economy and development.”
Despite the growth in imports, Costa Rica continues to run a large trade deficit, due mainly to the high price of oil (TT, Sept. 26).