Costa Rica’s exports in the first half of 2021 registered a year-on-year growth of 26%, the highest in the last 5 years. In total, the country entered US$ 7,106 million as confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex), on last Wednesday.
This increase represents an additional income of US$ 1,462 million, compared to the first 6 months of 2020. Despite the hit of the pandemic, last year, the country registered a record in its sales abroad in 2020.
In the case of agricultural exports, this niche barely shows a slight recovery, with an increase of 5%. On the other hand, the livestock sector, one of the most affected by the pandemic, still shows a 4% drop compared to the first half of 2020.
Meanwhile, the sale of services abroad has experienced a decrease of 1/3 (33.33%). This is according to the figures for the first quarter of the year, compared to 2021.
An exporting motor
The increase of more than US$ 1 billion to foreign markets is explained by the continued success of exports of medical devices and life science items. This was stated by the Comex minister, Andrés Valenciano.
Precisely, medical and precision equipment reported a year-on-year increase of 46%. This industry has established itself as an export engine with a 35% share. That success was reflected in a significant number of other industries as well. For example, the food sector grew by 21%, the pharmaceutical chemical sector by 15%, while electrical and electronic products registered an increase of 40%. In metalworking, growth was 56% and plastic 28%.
The government officer acknowledged that there are still weak points to address, such as fishing and agriculture. The 5% growth in the latter sector is largely due to an increase in pineapple sales, a product that had a turnover of US $ 42 million more compared to the first half of 2020.
Meanwhile, frozen fruit and ornamental plant sales entered US$ 16 million and US$ 14 million more than the first half of last year, respectively.
Another detail that Valenciano highlighted was the increase in sales in all regions of the world. In this sense, exports to the Caribbean rose 33%, while to South America it was 55%, the highest increases in this area.
In North America, exports grew by 27% while in the isthmus the figure was 26%, during the first half of 2021. Asia (25%) and Europe (20%) were the ones with the least expansion in that period.
Drop in general services
The Ministry of Foreign Trade also revealed official data on the sale of services abroad during the first quarter of the year. There was a year-on-year drop of 34%. This, in large part, was due to the impact of tourism and the slow recovery facing this sector.
In total, the sector exported, during this period, a total of US$ 1,908 million. This amount represents $ 993 million less than in the first quarter of 2020.
Only the supply of financial services registered growth (+3%). After travel, which fell 60%, are transportation (-5%) and transformation services (-1%).
During 2020, the sale of services represented almost half of the country’s exports. Out of the total of US$ 11,185 million, sales of services by outsourcing companies (like call centers, among others), represented US$ 5,085 million.