flag Costa Rica Costa Rica: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Costa Rica is very open to foreign trade, which represents 71% of GDP. The country is the 78th largest export economy and the 87th largest importer in the world. Costa Rica mainly exports medical instruments and appliances (28.6%), various fruits (14.8%), orthopaedic appliances (5.9%), food preparations (4.5%), and coffee (2.3%). Its main imports include petroleum oils (8.3%), medicaments (3.4%), motor vehicles (2.8%), medical instruments and appliances (2.6%), and telephone sets (2.5%). According to IMF Foreign Trade Forecasts, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by an estimated 8.8% in 2022 and is expected to increase by 5.3% in 2023, while the volume of imports of goods and services increased by an estimated 4.6% in 2022 and is expected to increase by 4.2% in 2023.

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 2021, exports of goods totalled USD 15,4 billion, while imports equalled USD 20,7 billion, resulting on a trade deficit of USD 2,8 billion. Concerning the trade of services, the imports amounted to USD 4,6 billion and the exports to USD 8,9 billion, thus Costa Rica was a net exporter of trade in 2021. 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 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 18,28917,57314,94220,72822,685
Exports of Goods (million USD) 11,49511,86412,31915,49417,752
Imports of Services (million USD) 4,2124,6143,4344,2695,498
Exports of Services (million USD) 9,75110,9067,9299,16411,790
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3-2-13021
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 54-11030
Trade Balance (million USD) -4,620-3,868-2,018-2,798-3,803
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 6766607280
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3331283539
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 3434323741

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

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Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2022
United States 43.8%
Netherlands 7.7%
Guatemala 5.3%
Belgium 5.2%
Nicaragua 3.9%
See More Countries 34.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2022
United States 38.8%
China 15.1%
Mexico 6.2%
Guatemala 2.7%
Brazil 2.6%
See More Countries 34.6%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

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Main Products

15.3 bn USD of products exported in 2022
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. 28.1%
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 7.8%
Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes...Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes and mangosteens, fresh or dried 6.8%
Bananas, incl. plantains, fresh or driedBananas, incl. plantains, fresh or dried 6.6%
Food preparations, n.e.s.Food preparations, n.e.s. 4.9%
See More Products 45.8%
21.1 bn USD of products imported in 2022
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 11.7%
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) 3.4%
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) 3.1%
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. 2.8%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 2.8%
See More Products 76.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows

 
 

Main Services

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 the World Trade Organization (WTO)
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: November 2023

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