Plan to Invest in Costa Rica?
The Costa Rican government is interested in attracting foreign direct investment in general, with a special focus on investments that enable Costa Rican exports and tourism. The Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX), its associated export promotion agency(PROCOMER), the investment promotion agency (CINDE) and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) all provide resources for potential investors in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) groups many US or transnational companies with operations in Costa Rica and as such may also provide valuable resources:
- Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX)
- Export Promotion Agency (PROCOMER)
- Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE)
- Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT)
- Costa Rican - American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham)
One core principle guiding a US citizen or company’s actions in Costa Rica must be compliance with all applicable Costa Rican law and process. This same principle applies when the investor faces a dispute, be it with a local business, a fellow investor and/or the Costa Rican government. Hence, any US investor seeking recourse for wrongs committed against him in Costa Rica is expected to find that recourse within the context of the Costa Rican legal system. In turn, the Costa Rican legal system is expected to uphold certain basic principles, as outlined in CAFTA-CR Chapter 10 and other international treaties. The United States Trade Representative’s website is a good first reference:
- Enforcement | Office of the United States Trade Representative
- Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)
United States citizens are invited to inform the Embassy when they find themselves involved in such disputes. Embassy personnel cannot be expected to take an active role in any dispute but may play a valuable role in monitoring the case as it progresses. Both the American Citizen Services (ACS) consular group and the Economic Section will attend these cases:
- American Citizen Services: firstname.lastname@example.org 2519-2000
- Kevin Ludeke, Economic Specialist :email@example.com 2519-2261
The orientation towards local solutions to local investment disputes is reinforced in Chapter 10 of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). In the event that the US investor believes that the Costa Rican government is at fault through action or inaction, Chapter 10 provides the mechanism by which the investor may take the Government of Costa Rica to binding international arbitration of the case under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Investment Disputes (ICSID) or the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). As of June 2013, one such arbitration case against Costa Rica has been advanced under the CAFTA-DR framework.