Costa Rica has again swept up awards in fDi’s Central American Countries of the Future awards, ranking first in five out of the seven categories. It ranked top for economic potential, business friendliness, human resources, quality of life, and development and investment strategy; and second for transport (behind Panama).

Costa Rica’s high levels of education and support for high-tech industries, including electronics, pharmaceuticals and software development, make it a popular destination for investors such as chip maker Intel, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and consumer products group Procter & Gamble.

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The country is now the world’s fifth largest exporter of high-tech goods and services, according to the United Nations, and trade with other countries accounts for 89% of its annual gross domestic product (GDP).

Overseas companies invested $1.4bn in Costa Rica last year, equivalent to 6.4% of national GDP and $320 per capita, one of the highest levels in Latin America. Recent new investment has come from Intel, computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard and medical products group Allergan.

Panama is fDi’s 2007 runner up, ranking top for infrastructure and second for economic potential, human resources, quality of life, and development and investment strategy. It is undergoing massive redevelopment. Recent and current projects include a $5.2bn expansion of the Panama Canal, a $7bn refinery project, port expansion projects costing more than $1bn and other projects totalling more than $10bn, including offices, housing and hotels.

See overleaf for more results. For methodology, judging criteria and judges panel, see page 58.

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Cost effectiveness, Infrastructure, Human resources, Quality of life

Central American Countries