In Latin America today, there is no more attractive investment destination than Costa Rica. Take a look at the workforce: hardworking and educated. Look at the technical infrastructure: the government is helping to install all the modern facilities needed by high-tech companies. The old stereotype of Costa Rica as simply an exporter of cattle, bananas and coffee is being replaced by an economy that is based on microprocessors and telecommunications.
The new Costa Rica boasts investments from the likes of Microsoft, Acer, GE, Intel, Abbott Labs, Continental Airways and Western Union. Perhaps they were encouraged in part by the World Bank’s praise for Costa Rica as
“one of the most stable and robust [democracies, with a] healthy economic growth rate [and] some of the best social indicators.”
Or perhaps these companies were attracted by educated, cheap, skilled manpower and excellent infrastructure.
The modern Costa Rican government is all about privatization and deregulation, especially with regard to telecommunications. The government’s Institute of Electricity is being broken up, turning away from monopolistic practices. Another bright spot is the banking industry – you can find a personal banker in Costa Rica that will provide you with all the services to which you are accustomed, thanks to the revamped banking laws.
There are two types of banks in Costa Rica:
- Government Banks – these are the Banco Nacional, Banco Credito Agricola and Banco Costa Rica. All deposits are guaranteed and there are branches throughout the country.
- Private Banks – these are affiliates of major international institutions. This is a growing sector, currently centered in the Central Valley. Private banks are overseen by the government banks to ensure their integrity.
You can transact in US dollars or in Costa Rican colones. Banks sports modern automated teller machines and can readily cash international checks. You can easily procure bank credit and debit cards. By holding your accounts in dollars, you avoid any problems with devaluations of the colone. Offshore banking is well-regulated and regulators work hard to prevent money laundering and drug money. In total, Costa Rica boasts of a central bank, three government-owned banks and 19 private commercial banks. There is also a workers’ bank and a government-run mortgage bank. Since 1998, the Superintendency of Financial Markets has supervised and regulated the Costa Rican banking industry. The same agency also oversees the country’s stock and bond markets.
It’s easy to see why Costa Rica is the Number One emerging market in Latin America for savvy investors in both the financial and real-estate industries.