Costa Rica tallied more than $4.5 billion in exports over the first four months of 2021, a 17% increase over the same period last year.
This figure is attributed to double-digit growths in the precision and medical equipment (+32%), Costa Rica’s principal export. Other manufacturing sectors also grew double digits, including the food industry (+16%), electronics (+28%), metalworking (+40%), plastics (+18%) and rubber (+25%), according to government figures.
On the other hand, the agricultural (-0.2%) and livestock and fishing (-7%) sectors have exported less this year than in 2020.
“The resilience of Costa Rican businesspeople and a robust trade policy are factors that have been determining factors in this recovery process in the export sector,” said the Minister of Foreign Trade, Andrés Valenciano.
In mid-2020, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted only four countries in the region had recorded increases in exports: Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
“This is due to a combination of greater sales of medical supplies and personal protective gear, and of agricultural products (the demand for which has been less affected by the pandemic),” their report said, noting “the relative resilience exhibited by intra-Central American trade.”
Costa Rican exports are sent largely to North America (46%). Europe (22%), Central America (20%) and Asia (19%) are other key markets.
Despite the economic activity generated by exports, unemployment in Costa Rica remains elevated at 18.7%. This represents an increase of 6.2 percentage points compared to early 2020.