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When a company is seeking to establish manufacturing facilities for high quality output, excellent tax incentives, and lower costs, there is no better option than Costa Rica, especially within its industrial free trade zones.

1) Highly educated, versatile and productive work force at only $1.40 per hour fully loaded.

Costa Rica has the highest United Nations’ Human Development Index among developing nations and the highest literacy rate of the American Continent (94%). The abolishment of the armed forces in 1949 freed resources that have been invested in free education and health services for the population. Education is state-sponsored and compulsory until the 9th grade. Strong emphasis is placed on English and computers since early grades. The National Training Institute (INA) offers free technical training in many fields. Several technical schools and universities prepare professionals with the highest international standards. These institutions offer various levels in electronic, electric, mechanical and industrial engineering. Even Harvard University has an extension in Costa Rica called INCAE to prepare middle and upper level managers. Today Costa Ricans manufacture electronic components, computer parts, pharmaceuticals, jewelry, clothing and food products, as well as perform data processing, software development and remote customer service.
2) Comprehensive package of incentives to foreign investment.
  • 100% exemption on import duties on raw materials, components and capital goods;
  • 100% exemption on taxes on profits for 8 years, and 50% for the following 4 years;
  • 100% exemption on export taxes, local sales and excise taxes, and taxes on profit repatriation;
  • 100% exemption on municipal and capital taxes;
  • No restrictions on capital repatriation or foreign currency management;
  • Fully expedited on-site customs clearance;
  • Can sell to exporters within Costa Rica;
  • Can also sell up to 40% in the local market.
In the Puntarenas free trade zone, companies also receive:
  • 50% longer exemption on taxes on profits: 100% for 12 years and 50% for the following 6 years;
  • Job bonus: Every year, for five years, the Government will pay the company back a percentage of its payroll in the chosen base year:

15 %
13 %
11 %
9 %
7 %
  • Subsidized training program: the Government of Costa Rica will pay every new direct worker for 3 months while receiving free on-site training, given by the National Training Institute. This results in 3 months of free labor for corporations in this free trade zone.
The last two incentives can reduce labor costs to about $1.00 per hour in Puntarenas.

3) Strategic location and preferential market access.

Costa Rica is in the middle of American Continent. With ports on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, it serves as an operations base for world markets. Also, Costa Rican products enter duty-free to the U.S. through the Caribbean Basin Initiative, to Europe through the General System of preferences, and to Central America and Mexico through bilateral free trade agreements. Currently, Costa Rica is working to obtain NAFTA parity and sign and agreement with Chile.

4) Export-oriented infrastructure and lower costs in general.

Costa Rica has abundant water supply, reliable hydroelectric power, and one of the most advanced telecommunications systems in Latin America.

Regarding transportation, Costa Rica has an extensive highway system, two major international airports and two seaports. All major U.S., European, and Latin American passenger and cargo carriers provide service at very competitive rates.

Costa Rica’s eight free trade zones are industrial parks that lease or sell world class facilities. These are normally designed for operations that: a) import raw materials, b) manufacture, assemble, process, and/or market products or services, and c) export them. Installed companies enjoy several services (on-site Customs Office, post-office and banks), as well as prompt approval of the privileged "Free Trade Zone Status".

5) Unequaled tradition of political, social and economic stability.

Costa Rica is the oldest and most stable democracy in Latin America. Its high living standards, education tradition and free health system granted is the highest United Nations Human Development Index among all developing nations. Costa Rica is among the tree countries with the longest life-expectancy rates in the world (76 years). It also has one of the lowest infant-mortality rates in the world (1.36%), and the highest literacy rate of the American Continent (94%). Last, but not least, the Government encourages foreign investment. Guaranteed by law, foreign corporations can fully own and control their assets, as well as repatriate their capital without restrictions. As a result, Costa Rica has an excellent ranking as a low risk country.

6) The company of many well-known foreign corporations.

Motorola, Acer America, Bourns, C&K Components, Panduit, DSC Communications, Reliability, Alpha Core/Tortran, Sawtek, K&L Microwave, Merrimac Industries, Sensor Scientific, Panasonic, Hitachi, Siemens, Square D, GTE Sylvania, Conair, Baxter, Merck, Pfizer, Jewelmont, Levi Strauss & Co., Hanes Knitwear, Warner’s, The William Carter Company, Rawlings, and U.S. Ringbinder are just some of the considerable number of foreign corporations that have selected our country as one of the best manufacturing sites in the world. Now Intel join them by opening its assembly and testing plant in 1998.

7) Free, professional assistance.

The Costa Rican Investment and Trade Development Board (CINDE) assists foreign corporations in efficiently establishing their operations in Costa Rica’s free trade zones. CINDE, a private, nonprofit organization, has expert personnel who provide complete, updated economic and business information, prepare custom-design visits to the country, help in the initial contact with suppliers and professionals, and follow-up to establish the operation. These services are provided free of charge.

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