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Costa Rica Puts in Work to Promote Investment

JULY 23rd 2020

  • Country working hard to attract investment while doing right by citizens
By: Gregg Wassmansdorf. Article originally published at 

July 10, 2020. Here’s an example of two kinds of news story related to FDI. First, in mid-May, Swiss-based Roche – the world’s largest biotech company – announced it was doubling the size of its services and solutions operation in Costa Rica, with plans to bring its total employment there to 700 before the end of 2020.

Roche has been in this small Central American country for 45 years, and has added functions and people over time: services and solutions, followed by information technology, then procurement and finance, and now it will add 370 people in human resources. This is FDI news that garners press releases, photographs and headlines.

Another FDI-related news story came out of Costa Rica about seven months ago, but you likely missed (or ignored) it. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development announced its investment committee had advanced Costa Rica to the next step on a multi-year but now nearly certain path for the country to join the organisation, and reach that ambitious goal in 2020.

This is unexciting, yet very important, news that reflects the complex work done  administratively and legislatively by Costa Rica to meet the highest international standards for business regulation and performance. This is the low-key news that sets the stage for the bigger, brighter corporate announcements.

Costa Rica has long been known in the site selection community as a solid investment destination option with an effective investment promotion agency in the form of CINDE. The country's focus on universal healthcare and education has been lauded by many, as has its commitment to environmental sustainability (it now uses 99% renewable energy) and it always rates highly for quality of life, seen in this year’s top ranking on the Happy Planet Index.

Costa Rica is continuing with efforts that differentiate it regionally and globally. On the health front, its response to the Covid-19 pandemic is considered best-in-class worldwide. Rapid and decisive action has resulted in remarkably low infection rates – partly by restricting cross-border transportation, which has agitated neighbours Panama and Nicaragua but had the intended effect. Regarding human rights, all legal hurdles have now been cleared with same-sex marriage in Costa Rica becoming legal in late May 2020, a first for countries in Central America.

Companies and their consultants should take note of these multi-faceted changes to both the business and the social climate. While many countries seem to lack positive leadership and direction, Costa Rica keeps making the right moves for today and the future.

*Gregg Wassmansdorf is senior managing director, consulting, at Newmark Knight Frank, a global real estate services firm. He is a member of the Site Selectors Guild. E-mail: