Free Trade Zones

Economic activity consolidates the recovery driven by free zones


Costa Rica’s economic activity consolidates its recovery after the coup Covid-19 pandemic. The impetus comes mainly from the business manufacturing that work in special diets such as free trade zones.

Last August, economic activity was three consecutive months above the pre-pandemic level (February 2020), according to the most recent data from the Monthly Index of Economic Activity (IMAE), released last Tuesday evening. .

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The indicator, estimated by the Central Bank, reached the level of 109.0 in August. In July it was 108.3 and in June 107.4. These levels exceed 107.1 in February 2020, ahead of the implementation of business closures, reduced capacity and traffic restrictions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IMAE makes it possible to estimate the evolution of the economy in the short term. The base year is 2017, which has a value of 100. Changes over time are measured from this level.

Growth engine

Special diets served as engines of economic activity virtually since May 2020. In this industry, pre-pandemic activity levels have picked up since October 2020. Despite strong double-digit growth over the past year, the industry has slowed in recent months. In August, the interannual variation was 25.2%.

On the other hand, the definitive regime – which represents 90% of national production – has not yet exceeded the level of pre-pandemic economic activity. The change from a year earlier was 9.2%. In total, the IMAE recorded a change of 11.6% in the eighth month compared to a year earlier.

At a different pace

Construction posted year-over-year growth of 17.6% in August. This figure was mainly influenced by private construction, which grew by 29%, against a contraction of 12.5% ​​in public construction.

The agricultural sector as a whole recorded a growth of 5%. There, the main driver is exportable products (bananas, pineapples, coffee, among others), whose interannual growth was 14.3%.

The making industry recorded an annual growth of 16.6%. While activity in the free zones recorded a variation of 36.5% (driven by medical devices), in definitive mode the growth was 7.4%.

The tertiary sector grew 14.1% year on year in August, influenced by growth in activities related to building materials, vehicle sales and the sale of electrical and household appliances.

Costa Rica Resonance

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