flag Costa Rica Costa Rica: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Costa Rica is very open to foreign trade, which represents 60 of GDP. The country is the 78th largest export economy and the 87th largest importer in the world. Costa Rica mainly exports instruments and appliances used in medical sciences (26.6%), various fruits (17.3%), orthopaedic appliances (5.2%), food preparations (4.1%), and coffee (2.8%). Its main imports include petroleum oils (5.8%), medicaments (4%), electrical apparatus for line telephony (2.9%), instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences (2.6%), and motor vehicles (2.5%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by an estimated 11.9% in 2021 and is expected to increase by 9.4% in 2022, while the volume of imports of goods and services increased by an estimated 8.9% in 2021 and is expected to increase by 7.1% in 2022.

Costa Rica's main trade partners are the United States, China, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium, Panama, and Germany. There are no significant trade barriers affecting the entry of most goods and services into Costa Rica. Customs duties in are relatively low, and in general do not exceed 15% - with the exception of dairy products, livestock and agricultural products. No tax is levied on imports coming from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Costa Rica offers many incentives for export companies, especially export subsidies and tax exemptions granted to export companies. Greater transparency is expected, due to a rational and comprehensive evaluation of this incentive policy, which could boost foreign trade over the long term. Moreover, exports of high-value goods, such as electronics and medical equipment, which are supported by government, play a key role in stimulating foreign trade. Costa Rica is a member of CARICOM and has several trade agreements with numerous countries, including the EU, Peru, China, Singapore, and the countries in Central America. In 2021, Costa Rica became an OECD member, and the country is also in process of becoming a full member of the Pacific Alliance.

In 2020, exports of goods totalled USD 12,1 billion, while imports equalled USD 14,9 billion, resulting on a trade deficit of USD 2,8 billion. Concerning the trade of services, the imports amounted to USD 3,4 billion and the exports to USD 6,8 billion, thus Costa Rica was a net exporter of trade in 2020. The country's structural deficit is due to the fact that a large proportion of manufactured exports depend on imported inputs, as well as the reliance on imports of consumer good. According to estimates, Costa Rica should maintain a trade deficit over the medium-term. Exports are expected to perform strongly on increased external demand for both capital and agricultural goods, mainly medical devices, pineapples, bananas. However, that increase should not offset the growth in imports, driven by demand for capital goods and commodities, notably hydrocarbons.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 15,12115,32218,28917,57314,942
Exports of Goods (million USD) 9,6349,55611,34411,71212,174
Imports of Services (million USD) 3,2073,6913,8994,1613,407
Exports of Services (million USD) 8,2888,6729,0359,5696,814
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 950-0-10
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 9753-11
Trade Balance (million USD) -4,426-4,367-4,389-3,743n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 6265666560
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3132323129
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3133343431

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
United States 43.5%
Netherlands 7.7%
Belgium 5.3%
Guatemala 5.1%
Panama 4.2%
See More Countries 34.2%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
United States 37.4%
China 14.5%
Mexico 6.8%
Guatemala 2.8%
Germany 2.6%
See More Countries 35.9%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

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Main Products

11.6 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Instruments and appliances used in medical,...Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 26.6%
Bananas, incl. plantains, fresh or driedBananas, incl. plantains, fresh or dried 9.3%
Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes...Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes and mangosteens, fresh or dried 8.0%
Orthopaedic appliances, incl. crutches, surgical...Orthopaedic appliances, incl. crutches, surgical belts and trusses; splints and other fracture appliances; artificial parts of the body; hearing aids and other appliances which are worn or carried, or implanted in the body, to compensate for a defect or disability 5.2%
Food preparations, n.e.s.Food preparations, n.e.s. 4.2%
See More Products 46.7%
14.5 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 5.8%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.0%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line...Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 2.9%
Instruments and appliances used in medical,...Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 2.6%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.5%
See More Products 82.1%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

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Main Services

8.8 bn USD of services exported in 2018
44.14%
34.88%
14.06%
5.46%
0.85%
0.27%
0.24%
0.07%
0.02%
3.6 bn USD of services imported in 2018
31.42%
23.90%
15.68%
12.86%
6.12%
4.73%
3.63%
1.08%
0.55%
0.03%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties

 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
International Economic Cooperation
Consult the Free Trade Agreement signed by Costa Rica.
Member of Central American Common Market (CACM)
Member of
Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) (in Spanish)
Member of Group of 77 (G-77)
Useful Resources
Customs web site
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
The National Registry of Intellectual Property.
 
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2022

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