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Summary

The Republic of Costa Rica (Costa Rica) is a Latin American country with a rapidly developing economy transitioning from primarily agricultural, to a more diversified one with growing sectors in ecotourism, pharmaceuticals, and finance. Costa Rica ranks high in a number of progressive and environmental measurements, and is known for its progressive policies related to human development and environmental sustainability.

Due to its growing tourism and ecotourism industries, and an ongoing effort to liberalize its trade and business environment, the country continues to attract investment and has been able to successfully develop into a more diversified economy. Medical equipment, textiles, plastic products, food processing, construction material, and microprocessors are Costa Ricas main industries, and the country exports a variety of agricultural, medical, and electronic products.

Costa Rica’s money transfer regulations

Sending money into or out of Costa Rica is generally easy and safe. There are currently no restrictions or delays on money transfers, acquiring foreign or domestic currency, or holding currency within the country. US dollars are freely available, and there are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds for investment or personal use. The Central Bank of Costa Rica created MONEX, a foreign exchange market, to facilitate currency exchange between the official Costa Rican currency, the colon (CRC) and the US dollar (USD).

Costa Rica does not impose any restrictions on reinvestments or on the repatriations of capital, earnings, interest earned on investments, or royalties received. The government is a member of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America (GAFISUD) and follows both international guidelines, as well as domestic policies and procedures, for detecting and preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Foreign investment in Costa Rica

Costa Rica actively seeks foreign direct investment (FDI) and has adopted more liberal economic policies to foster a favorable investment climate for domestic and foreign investors. To this end, the government has created two agencies to help promote and foster FDI: the Foreign Trade Promotion Corporation (PROCOMER), and the Costa Rican Investment and Development Board (CINDE).

Despite a brief decline in growth in 2009 and 2010, foreign direct investment in Costa Rica has grown steadily from 2000 through 2012. During this time, Costa Ricas government began focusing on attracting high-tech manufacturing and service companies, often through signing free-trade agreements and offering a number of fiscal benefits to companies that establish themselves in Free Trade Zones. Costa Rica has developed robust free-trade agreements with a number of Latin American countries, as well as with the United States.

Despite strong efforts to attract and retain FDI, however, Costa Ricas legal and cultural environment, and its poor and often outdated basic infrastructure (roads, ports, water systems) are still hurdles to be overcome. While not considered corrupt, the legal system is old, slow, and overly bureaucratic, and at times has delayed or even canceled projects that would have been beneficial. The countrys infrastructure needs to be updated, and can be inadequate or unreliable.

Costa Rica’s monetary and regulatory authority

The Central Bank of Costa Rica, in conjunction with the Costa Rican government, is responsible for maintaining the countrys banking and financial systems, and for defining, establishing, and enforcing the countrys fiscal and economic policies. The central bank directly oversees the performance of the colon, which is not pegged to any currency and is managed within a range of exchange rates relative to the US dollar.

Currency

Costa Ricas official currency, the colon (CRC), is named for the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish). The US dollar is also commonly accepted throughout the country, and from 1983 - 2006 the colon was tied to the dollar on a crawling peg exchange rate regime. In 2006, Costa Rica ended the peg against the dollar, claiming the colon was undervalued. Today, the central bank manages the colons performance relative to the US dollar, but it is not officially pegged to the dollar.

The colon is based on a system of hundredths and divided into subunits called centimos, with one colon equal to 100 centimos. Colones and centimos are denominated in coins, and colones in banknotes. Common coins in circulation today include the 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 colones coins, and banknotes the 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 colones bills.

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