Eleven clusters are operating in Costa Rica, in sectors ranging from digital animation to flowers, food or agricultural products, seeking better operating and financial leverage.
Achieving greater access to credit, winning new customers and suppliers, discussing industry issues and possible solutions, more formalized operation or devising new strategies are part of the benefits of belonging to a cluster, a policy that is actively supported by the Costa Rica Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER).
Greater integration between the State and the business sector is essential to exploit the opportunities offered by the region's investment projects.
During the World Business Forum Latin America 2014, held in Guatemala, entrepreneurs from different sectors pointed to the need for increased connectivity and commercial traffic between South America and Central America, in order to take better advantage of investment opportunities in each of the countries, through the use of public-private partnerships.
When talking about how well the Latin American economy is doing, there should be a note added: "except Central America and the Caribbean countries."
In the interview to Humberto López, Chief Economist, World Bank (WB) for Central America by Juan Pablo Arias of Nacion.com, he reflects: "Central America in 2010 grew much less than South America and for 2011 it expects a lower growth rate than the south of the continent. When Asia is doing well, Central America and the Caribbean are not doing so well because they are competitors. The expansion of Asian exports in the U.S. is shifting, in part, Central American exports. Moreover, commodity prices are rising and that's good for South America because they are producers.
Annual growth in trade between Central American countries from 1960 to the close of 2008 averaged 11.7%, increasing from $30 million to $6.3 billion.
"Geography is destiny,” Napoleon would often say, and Central America is a clearly a case in point. As far as trade is concerned, the region’s countries are one, and in terms of business it is essential to take this into account.
Sardimar and Calvo Group are involved in a dispute over tariffs generated by the implementation of the multilateral treaty imposed by the US-Central America Treaty.
The Spanish-owned Calvo Group has a tuna processing plant in El Salvador from which it exports to Costa Rica - among other places - having paid the country a customs duty of 15% until January 2009, and afterwards taking advantage of CAFTA benefits by not paying the tariff for tuna in oil and paying 2.2% for tuna in water. This will obviously hurt the local sales of Costa Rican-owned Sardimar, which is protesting, stating that the situation violates the provisions of the General Treaty of Central American Integration since Calvo Group operates in a free trade zone in El Salvador and is exempt from most national and municipal taxes and Sardimar considers this a subsidy in disguise.