Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

Foreign Investment a Top Priority: Solís

Kyle May / CC BY 2.0

Attracting foreign investment to grow the economy is a top priority for Costa Rica's new government, President Luis Guillermo Solís said Thursday at the Inter-American Dialogue. Solís, who assumed the presidency of the Central American nation on May 8, has been touring the United States this week to assure investors that his administration will create a welcoming environment for foreign investments and businesses.

"Making the economy grow is one of our goals, and this is something that I would like to pursue very firmly," Solís said. "I'm here because the new government in Costa Rica, which came to office the 8th of May, needed to ratify the country's will to keep enhancing foreign direct investment in the country," he added. Two days after Solís was elected in early April, Intel announced that it would be closing a manufacturing facility, cutting 1,500 of its 2,500 positions in the country, and Bank of America announced the same day that it would close its operations in Costa Rica, raising some concerns about the direction of the nation's economy. Intel had accounted for nearly one-fifth on the nation's exports of goods, according to Bloomberg News.

"There were some questions regarding the country's capacity to compete in the international scenario," said Solís. However, Solís said he decided to travel to the United States early in his presidency to introduce himself to businesses, governments and individuals to "assure them to our commitment to this idea of having partners who are working or who will be working as investors in Costa Rica as part of this vision that Costa Rica needs to be integrated to the world, integrated to the world markets, integrated into the global economy."

Solís, who arrived in the United States Monday, met this week with businesses and investors in California and New York before traveling to Washington. Shortly after meeting with technology company officials in Silicon Valley on Monday, Intel announced that it will open a "mega-lab" in Costa Rica to test products. The facility will employ some 350 people. Palo Alto, Calif.-based software and cloud computing company VMware also confirmed this week that it plans to expand its 12-person staff in Costa Rica to more than 200 by the end of this year and to more than 350 employees by the end of next year.

Solís on Thursday called Intel's decision to open a mega-lab a "landmark decision for investments in Costa Rica" because it shows the country is moving from high-technology manufacturing to research and development. "But we will continue to welcome manufacturing because that is also good for the economy," he added.

The president said his economic agenda also includes deeper integration with markets in Central America and the Caribbean, an "intense agenda with China" and continuing to move forward with joining the OECD. His administration is reviewing the details of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc, which his predecessor signed a declaration of intent to join, he added. Solís also reiterated his commitment to social inclusion and transparency in government, which along with economic growth formed the basis of his electoral platform.

Solís, who is accompanied by a delegation including the ministers of foreign affairs and foreign trade, met Thursday with José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, and with members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Solís returns to Costa Rica on Saturday.

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