Costa Rica has attracted foreign businesses to start 40 new projects in Costa Rica and generate more than 8,000 jobs here this year, said Anabel González, the minister of Comercio Exterior, at a press conference Wednesday.
Ms. González and officials of the Coalición Costarricense de Iniciativas de Desarollo, known as CINDE, said that these projects are primarily technical and research projects that created high-paying skilled jobs.
These new projects came mostly from businesses based in the United States, but also from Europe, Asia and other Latin American countries, they said.
“In any country in Latin America, when we go to Asian countries, when we are in Europe, the people are saying that Costa Rica is a country that is succeeding in attracting foreign investment,” said Ms. González.
Analysts from the coalition say that these businesses have invested about $575 million in Costa Rica. The numbers of projects, investments and new jobs from these foreign companies all increased last year.
However, this narrative that Costa Rica is business-friendly is not the trend that has been painted by surveys and rankings.
This year’s edition of the World Bank’s annual Doing Business survey placed Costa Rica as 110th out of 185 countries around the world, behind currently tumultuous countries like Pakistan and Egypt.
That survey ranked Costa Rica as 169th in protecting investors, 128th in getting construction permits, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and starting a business, as well as 125th in paying taxes.
Additionally, the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce held a summit in October that focused on the theme that the government is standing in the way of Costa Rica becoming competitive for business.
A spokesperson from the chamber noted that the data released by the coalition did not include how many businesses made steps to come to Costa Rica but ultimately chose to go elsewhere.
The spokesperson also said that businesses that come to Costa Rica could have been successful, but they report that the government could do more to facilitate growth.
Ms. González touted the fact that many of these projects deal with engineering, software design, product research and product development, or high-paying skilled jobs.
“The principle contribution that high-technology businesses bring to our country is the formation of human capital in Costa Rica,” said Ms. González.
At the conference, coalition officials highlighted many of these new projects and major expansions by other companies already in the country. Most of the 8,000 jobs have not actually been added to these businesses’ payrolls yet, but officials maintained numerous times that the companies will add these jobs.
Some projects seem certain, such as the U.S. company Convergys planning to add 500 new jobs after inaugurating a new headquarters in Rohrmoser. Others do not seem as concrete, like the U.S. Akamai which said it plans to begin operations for a technical support facility for South America and Mexico in 2014 and add 50 jobs.