The Costa Rican government has established stringent cybersecurity rules for companies bidding on 5G network contracts in the country. President Rodrigo Chaves announced that only firms based in nations endorsing the Budapest Convention on cybercrime will be eligible.
“It’s the clearest standard. You’re either part of this international cybersecurity agreement, or you’re not,” said Chaves, referencing the treaty backed by over 60 countries. The treaty aims to harmonize cybersecurity laws and facilitate cooperation on fighting cybercrime.
The policy effectively disqualifies Chinese companies like Huawei from Costa Rica’s upcoming 5G spectrum auction, as China has not signed the Budapest pact. When asked about the U.S.-China technology rivalry, Chaves asserted Costa Rica’s neutrality. “If the big players wish to clash, Costa Rica won’t be caught in the middle,” he stated.
Some legislators have questioned the move, concerned about jeopardizing trade ties. PSL Congresswoman Montserrat Ruiz remarked, “We cannot risk the international relations and trade we’ve built over decades.” She joined lawmakers demanding an explanation from the foreign and telecom ministers within eight days.
China’s embassy in Costa Rica expressed disapproval over the exclusion of Chinese firms from 5G development. But Chaves emphasized sovereign decision-making in safeguarding citizens and infrastructure.
Costa Rica’s telecom provider, ICE, is managing the 5G network expansion. The enhanced connectivity promises to modernize industries from agriculture to eco-tourism.
While respecting Costa Rica’s autonomy, China urged technology to be free of ideology and politicization. But with growing digital threats, Chaves insists benchmark cyber protections are essential.
“Costa Rica is eager to embrace 5G’s potential, but not at the expense of cyber risk,” he concluded. The policy underscores the complexity of smaller nations navigating 21st century great power politics.