Q: How is membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) going to affect the country?
A: Costa Rica will achieve greater status among the international community after becoming a member of the OECD. It will also have an impact in terms of foreign direct investment, as well as strengthening our efforts in other areas, such as decarbonising the economy.
It’s a privilege to sit at the same table as the other OECD 37 members. It will help us continue with our reforms and upgrade state institutions and their functions to improve the life of our citizens.
Q: How do you see the future of investment promotion post-Covid?
A: Covid-19 has accelerated changes that were underway, such as digitisation.
From an OECD perspective, Covid-19 encourages the debate over the distribution of global and national resources into the new economy as opposed to the fossil fuel economy.
Q: How is Costa Rica adjusting?
A: Costa Rica was focusing on sustainability, even before climate change became an issue.
We still have challenges, such as water and waste management, and being part of the OECD will help us better address them. After Covid-19, countries will have to reassess their priorities and positioning.
We are going to reach out to international companies that want to reduce their environmental footprint. We have achieved growth without compromising the environment and social inclusion, and have paved the way for other countries to follow suit.
Q: How are you handling the crisis from a foreign trade perspective?
A: The geographic diversification of our exports is going to counter the negative impact of the crisis depending on how quickly different export destinations ease lockdown measures.
We have to take into account the fact that logistics in central America is mostly terrestrial. During May, borders were closed to trade because of the strict health restrictions that were imposed [on truck drivers], although the situation has begun normalising [in June]. Overall, I think that the international community has handled the crisis well because global trade has not halted altogether.
Q: Will Covid-19 foster the reshoring/nearshoring of investment?
A: It’s a risk assessment that boards and shareholders will have to carry out. It will also depend on how governments try to make their countries competitive to compete for those investments. These decisions are still under assessment and they will depend on issues that were not part of the conversation, such as health risks and domestic health policies.
Q: How is Costa Rica going to compete for new investment?
A: Costa Rica’s national health system has allowed us to implement a response to the emergency in a coordinated way.
So far, we have shown low health risks as well as low political risks as we have an established democratic tradition. This is connected with good management of the response to the pandemic, which is a strong signal for investors.
Moreover, the fields of innovation, welfare and life sciences have been declared of national interest. In life sciences, we already have a cluster with 12 major international investors and we want to take this project to the next stage and bring over research and development operations.