Costa Rica Economy - 2021


SOURCE: 2021 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

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Economic overview

Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 3.8% in 2017. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity also makes it a key destination for ecotourism.

Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which became effective for Costa Rica in 2009, helped increase foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including insurance and telecommunication. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, a complex bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and uncertainty of contract enforcement impede greater investment.

Costa Rica’s economy also faces challenges due to a rising fiscal deficit, rising public debt, and relatively low levels of domestic revenue. Poverty has remained around 20-25% for nearly 20 years, and the government’s strong social safety net has eroded due to increased constraints on its expenditures. Costa Rica’s credit rating was downgraded from stable to negative in 2015 and again in 2017, upping pressure on lending rates - which could hurt small business, on the budget deficit - which could hurt infrastructure development, and on the rate of return on investment - which could soften foreign direct investment (FDI). Unlike the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is not highly dependent on remittances - which represented just 1 % of GDP in 2016, but instead relies on FDI - which accounted for 5.1% of GDP.

Real GDP growth rate

3.3% (2017 est.)

4.2% (2016 est.)

3.6% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2% (2019 est.)

2.2% (2018 est.)

1.6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B (2020)

Moody's rating: B2 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: B (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$99.146 billion (2019 est.)

$97.122 billion (2018 est.)

$94.605 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 92

GDP (official exchange rate)

$61.855 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$19,642 (2019 est.)

$19,427 (2018 est.)

$19,112 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 91

Gross national saving

14.2% of GDP (2019 est.)

15.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

14.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 150

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 20.6% (2017 est.)

services: 73.9% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 64.2% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 17.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 17.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 33.3% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -32.9% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 69.2 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 79.9 (2020)

Trading score: 77.6 (2020)

Enforcement score: 55.2 (2020)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, pineapples, bananas, milk, oil palm fruit, fruit, oranges, watermelons, cassava, rice

Industries

medical equipment, food processing, textiles and clothing, construction materials, fertilizer, plastic products

Industrial production growth rate

1.3% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 147

Labor force

1.843 million (2020 est.)

note: official estimate; excludes Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica

country comparison to the world: 123

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 14%

industry: 22%

services: 64% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate

8.1% (2017 est.)

9.5% (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

Population below poverty line

21% (2019 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

48 (2018 est.)

49.2 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 19

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.5%

highest 10%: 36.9% (2014 est.)

Budget

revenues: 8.357 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 11.92 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

14.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 200

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 185

Public debt

48.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

44.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.692 billion (2017 est.)

-$1.326 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 163

Exports

$10.81 billion (2017 est.)

$10.15 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 95

Exports - partners

United States 38%, Netherlands 6%, Belgium 5%, Guatemala 5%, Panama 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

medical instruments, bananas, tropical fruits, orthopedic appliances, food preparations (2019)

Imports

$15.15 billion (2017 est.)

$14.53 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 93

Imports - partners

United States 41%, China 13%, Mexico 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, cars, medical instruments, packaged medicines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.15 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$7.574 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Debt - external

$29.589 billion (2019 est.)

$28.553 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 85

Exchange rates

Costa Rican colones (CRC) per US dollar -

573.5 (2017 est.)

544.74 (2016 est.)

544.74 (2015 est.)

534.57 (2014 est.)

538.32 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Costa Rica on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Costa Rica 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Costa Rica 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.