Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla rang the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday morning, kicking off an important day for promoting – and securing – foreign direct investment in Costa Rica.
Chinchilla, who is on a weeklong tour of the U.S. with the primary goal of sparking investors’ interest in Costa Rica, stood alongside Duncan Niederauer, chief executive officer and director of NYSE Euronext, as she tolled the ceremonial bell that starts the trading day. After doing so, Chinchilla gave a brief speech to hundreds of stockbrokers as she stood on the podium in front of the floor of the stock exchange.
“We do not have companies registered here in the stock market in New York,” Chinchilla said in her accented English. “There are many U.S. companies that are working and investing in our country. We will always have our doors open to these companies.”
Chinchilla also touted Costa Rica’s recent upgrade on the Moody’s investment scale. On Sept. 9, Moody’s, the investors service group, upgraded Costa Rica’s credit rating from speculative to stable after the country proved capable of overcoming external shocks. Moody’s also projects that foreign investment in Costa Rica will be stable in the coming years, helping the country address its fiscal deficit.
“We are very, very proud to say that very recently we received an upgrade from Moody’s and we have earned a high investment grade,” Chinchilla said. “That means that we are in very good shape and we are working very hard in order to continue inviting U.S. companies to invest in our country.”
Later in the day, Emerson, the St. Louis, Missouri-based technology company, which opened an engineering plant Costa Rica in 2008, announced that it will invest $2.3 million to construct a new building in the Multipark free-trade zone in Guachipelín, in the western San José suburb of Escazú. The company plans to hire 150 new employees before the end of 2011. Emerson’s existing plant is located in Heredia, north of San José.
“The announcement that Emerson will be expanding its operations in the upcoming months is confirmation that there continue to be companies interested in investing in Costa Rica and growing their already existing operations,” Chinchilla said upon learning of Emerson’s investment commitment.
Chinchilla has also been visiting top media offices in New York, grabbing headlines among financial publications for the country’s new investment rating and economic growth prospects. Business newswire Bloomberg reported that, thanks in part to the recent upbeat Moody’s report, Costa Rica is poised to make its first bond sale since 2004.