One of the first indications of a sunnier economic new year in Costa Rica was seen in the export market, as the Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) announced this week that January exports totaled $727.9 million – an improvement of $133.5 million, or 22 percent, over the same month in 2009.
The news came after overall exports last year fell 9 percent from record highs in 2008.
Several export sectors experienced considerable growth in the first month of the year, including the industrial sector, which exported more than $535 million worth of goods. That represented a 27 percent increase over January 2009. The industrial sector was boosted by a 57 percent increase in exports of food products, which brought in more than $99 million. The consistently valuable export of electronic components and microchips also opened the year with promising results, raking in $183 million, a 40 percent increase over last January.
Of all the sectors, the increase in agricultural exports was possibly the most encouraging.
In January, exports of pineapple and melon continued to shine, improving by more than 28 percent and 69 percent, respectively, when compared to January 2009. Coffee and bananas, Costa Rica’s traditional export staples, also showed signs of rebounding from a difficult 2009, when banana exports fell by 15 percent and coffee exports fell by more than 31 percent. Exports of both products increased last month.
“The numbers indicate the possibilities for growth for the banana industry in new markets,” said Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz. “These results allow us to continue with the established projections of the commercial agenda, which we expect to be favorable in the export market as we enter new markets.”
Of total exports from Costa Rica in January, 40 percent were sent to North America, 19 percent to Asia and 17 percent to the European Union (EU). During the first two months of 2010, Costa Rica finalized free-trade agreement negotiations with Singapore and China, and this week will see the beginning of the seventh round of negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the EU.
Compared to last January, exports to North America grew by181 percent, rose by 57 percent within Central America, increased by 126 percent to the Caribbean region and jumped by 76 percent to Asia.