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That’s equivalent to more than $3.340 million USD, $322 million more than the same period in 2020 when the pandemic was beginning.
- A.M. Costa Rica illustrative photo -

Costa Rican exports grow 11%, specialists say

Published Thursday, April 22, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican exports grew 11% in the first quarter of 2020, from January to March, according to a report of the Costa Rica Export Promotion Agency (Procomer).

That’s equivalent to more than $3.340 million USD, $322 million more than the same period in 2020 when the pandemic was beginning.

Among the sectors with the most exports are: precision and medical equipment (20%), food industry, (14%), electronics, (19%), metal and mechanics (29%), and plastic (14%).

Despite the positive numbers, there are sectors reporting a decrease in exports. Among these, fish products fell 5%. and agricultural products fell 3%.

According to the report, all the countries that buy products from Costa Rica have grown their economies. Among, North American countries the increase was 11%, in Europe, growth of 6% was registered. Central American nations increased imports from Costa Rica by10%.

Regarding the data on exports versus imports in ten years, from 2010 to 2020, an important change can be reported in the trade balance, going from deficit to surplus.

However, the positive data does not apply to the exported services. In 2020, that sector registered a drop of 29%, compared to 2019; the equivalent of $2,759 million less than the previous year.

The most affected service sector in 2020 was tourism dropping 27%  during the same period of 2019.

In January the Tourism Institute reported the arrival of tourists fell by approximately 70% in 2020.

According to the institute, 1,011,912 tourists arrived in 2020, which represents almost a third of the 3 million-plus visitors recorded in 2019.

"The uncertainty and restrictions of the pandemic caused world tourism slowdown and the country received a third of the tourists that usually come to Costa Rica," Gustavo Segura, Minister of Tourism said.

The recovery of the tourism sector will be gradual, added Segura.

According to the minister, an increase has been detected in the number of tourists arriving from the United States, however, this is not happening in the case of European visitors, due to the restrictions in those countries and the long distance.

In other words, for a European, it could be more expensive to travel from another continent to get to Costa Rica, than for a visitor of the American Continent.

Last year 547,466 tourists arrived from North America. In December 2020 alone, 45,641 arrived from the U.S. and 4,450 from Canada.

In 2020,  149,023 European travelers arrived from countries such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

"With the arrival of the vaccine, the increase in efforts to contain the virus, the opening and reactivation of tourist activity, we hope that the activity will show a rebound for the second half of 2021," Rodolfo Lizano, representative of the Tourism Institute said.

According to Segura, the challenge for this year is to maintain a safe border opening, and to keep promoting the country's brand as a safe destination in the main markets, such as the US, Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Another challenge is to bring relief to tourism service companies, so as many as possible can survive during the pandemic, said the minister.

What actions should the government take to increase tourism? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

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