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Cablegate: U.S. Biennial Caribbean Basin Investment Survey

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0758/01 2451514
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021514Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1180
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000758

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/CEN DESK OFFICER JENNIFER VANTRUMP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC ECON ETRD OTRA XL EFIN CS
SUBJECT: U.S. BIENNIAL CARIBBEAN BASIN INVESTMENT SURVEY

REF: (A) SECSTATE 060543, (B) 07 SAN JOSE 1248

1. (U) SUMMARY: With Entry Into Force (EIF) of the Dominican
Republic - Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) on
January 1st 2009, the reporting period 2007-2008 is the last in
which the Caribbean Basin trade programs (CBI/CBERA/CBTPA) figure
among Costa Rica's trade benefits. Textile and non-traditional
agricultural exports have been the principal direct beneficiary
sectors. More broadly, the Caribbean Basin trade programs have
played a key role in the growth of the wider Costa Rican economy
over the last 25 years through encouragement of an outward-looking
export orientation and as a springboard for CAFTA ratification and
implementation.

----------------------------------
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT OVERVIEW
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Costa Rican foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased
yearly, reaching a peak of USD 2.016 billion in 2008. The U.S.
continues to make up the dominant share of FDI in Costa Rica,
accounting for 50 percent in 2007 and 60.4 percent in 2008. Industry
has been the leading FDI sector in recent years, with 26.6 percent
in 2008. The real estate sector followed with 24.3 percent,
agriculture with 21 percent, tourism with 14 percent and the service
sector with 6.3 percent. These relative percentages are accurate
reflections of historic trends, with the exception of agriculture's
21 percent, which is largely a single USD 403 million purchase of a
Costa Rican banana and pineapple producer by the US-based fruit
exporter Del Monte.

3. (U) TABLE ONE
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT BY SECTOR
-----------------------------------
(in millions of dollars, current)
Sector 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Agriculture 50.6 37.1 66.1 -10.4 426.5
Agroindustry -0.3 29.6 -3.2 35.1 16.6
Commerce 23.9 47.6 57.0 77.0 64.6
Industry 456.0 344.9 435.5 687.0 536.1
Services 17.3 73.3 60.9 63.7 126.1
Finance 22.6 40.9 343.4 73.9 34.6
Tourism 41.4 53.5 131.9 321.3 285.7
Real Estate 178.4 234.6 373.5 644.7 489.9
Others 3.9 -0.5 4.1 3.8 36.0

TOTAL 794 861 1,469 1,896 2,016
(Source: Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR))

4. (U) U.S. individuals and companies have accounted for 56 percent
of Costa Rica's FDI over the past five years, with a low of 47
percent in 2006 and a high of 70 percent in 2004. U.S. investors
registered a relatively high 60 percent in 2008, followed by Mexico
(6 percent), Spain (4 percent), El Salvador (3 percent) and
Switzerland (2 percent). Canada, Panama, Venezuela, Holland and
Italy have also been significant contributors to FDI in past years.
Despite Costa Rica's continued efforts to attract Asian investment,
which include current Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with
China, Costa Rica receives very little FDI from the Asian
countries.

5. (U) TABLE TWO
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
-------------------------
(Selected countries, not comprehensive, in millions of dollars,
current) Cumulative
Country 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Percent Rank
USA 557 532 695 940 1,218 56
Canada 11 55 336 96 25 7.4
Holland 15 0 26 266 25 4.7
Mexico 29 37 31 64 112 3.9
Colombia 11 22 73 30 41 2.5
Germany 16 7 25 59 60 2.4
El Salvador 14 21 33 41 54 2.3
Spain 6 14 11 54 76 2.3
Switzerland 31 -11 10 49 49 1.8
Panama 20 42 29 5 6 1.5
Italy 12 24 16 19 18 1.3
Venezuela 8 8 14 21 18 1.0
Relevant Asian 5 -1 17 3 9 .5
Other 12.5

6. (U) The investment promotion agency CINDE predicts a roughly 30
percent drop in FDI in 2009. The real estate sector and
manufacturing industry will be the hardest hit. The service sector,
on the other hand, continues to attract new companies, growing from
one company in 1995 to a total of 80 companies and 23,800 employees
in 2008. CINDE states that in its three target sectors of
investment attraction -- Medical Devices, Advanced Manufacturing,
and Services -- the number of successful investment deals in 2009
will be the same as in 2008 but the average value per deal will be
lower. However, it should be noted that these three very dynamic
sectors did not directly benefit from the Caribbean Basin trade
programs.

---------------------------------
LARGEST EXPORT CATEGORIES TO U.S.
---------------------------------
7. (U) United States International Trade Commission (USITC)
statistics reveal textiles, tuna and non-traditional agriculture to
be the major direct beneficiaries of Caribbean Basin trade programs.
Non-traditional agriculture has been the stellar performer with a
plethora of smaller firms and distinct new products. The tuna
industry is represented by Sardimar, an innovative exporter based in
the port town of Puntarenas. The Costa Rican textile industry has
been shrinking as many companies relocate to countries with lower
cost structures.

8. (U) TABLE THREE
US IMPORTS FROM COSTA RICA
TOP FIVE PRODUCT LINES
-------------------------
Rank HTS# Description Program 2008 Value
1 90189080 Medical Instruments None Claimed 470,918,961
2 08043040 Pineapple CBI 447,868,546
3 84733011 Printed Circuit Ass None Claimed 413,759,425
4 08030020 Banana None Claimed 313,220,752
5 85423100 Processors & Contr. None Claimed 205,485,923
Source: USITC website

9. (U) The following table is a continuation of Table Three above.
While in the above table we list the first five export product lines
in order of 2008 value, in the table below we continue down the list
of product lines listing only those that benefit from the Caribbean
Basin trade programs. The first column expresses the item's rank
within all export item lines from Costa Rica to the United States.

10. (U) TABLE FOUR
US IMPORTS FROM COSTA RICA
RANK IN 2008 OF CARIBBEAN BASIN
BENEFICIARY CATEGORIES
-------------------------------
Rank HTS# Description Program 2008 Value
8 40111010 Pneumatic Rad Tires CBI 96,240,569
9 22071060 Ethyl Alcohol CBI 94,351,195
11 61159590 Stockings and Socks CBTPA 65,577,935
14 20091100 Frozen Orange Juice CBI 40,906,839
16 08071920 Fresh Cantaloupe CBI 31,469,114
17 07141020 Fresh Cassava CBI 30,774,090
18 85363080 Electrical Breakers CBI 29,463,809
21 06031900 Fresh Cut Flowers CBI 25,253,938
23 06021000 Live Plant Cuttings CBI 24,711,216
24 20089913 Banana Pulp CBI 22,420,332
Source: USITC website

11. (U) The Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX) recently compiled a
list at the request of the US Embassy of companies exporting more
than twelve thousand dollars per year in the major Caribbean Basin
trade program categories from Costa Rica to the United States.
Contact Econ Specialist Kevin Ludeke ludekekj@state.gov for a
digital copy of this list with company names and contact
information. In the following chart we provide a sample.

12. (U) TABLE FIVE
NUMBER OF EXPORTERS TO USA
SELECTED PRODUCT LINES
(Caribbean Basin trade
program beneficiaries)
-------------------------
(Export more than USD 12,000 in 2008)
Fresh Pineapple 86 export firms
Cassava 79 export firms
Chayote 60 export firms
Fresh Cut Flowers 38 export firms
Live Plant Cutting 11 export firms
Banana Pulp 9 export firms

----------------------------------------
IMPACT OF CARIBBEAN BASIN TRADE PROGRAMS
----------------------------------------

13. (U) The Caribbean Basin trade programs and their beneficiaries
have played a broad role in persuading Costa Rica of the wisdom of
full engagement with the global economy. During the prolonged
public debate leading up to CAFTA Entry Into Force (EIF) on January
1 2009, the non-traditional export companies with Caribbean Basin
trade program benefits were living examples of the promise of free
trade and as such served as effective counterarguments to the
opposition line that CAFTA's benefits were more theoretical than
practical. This same philosophy that global trade creates
opportunities has led Costa Rica to develop a set of institutions
and national characteristics that have deepened and broadened Costa
Rica's export diversification and expansion. These institutions and
characteristics include the investment promotion agency (CINDE), a
very competent and aggressive Ministry of Foreign Trade, aggressive
business chambers, individual export "clusters" that have become
self-reinforcing, communications and transport infrastructure and an
education sector eager to prepare workers for market opportunities.
This diverse collection of internal advocates for global trade
demonstrates the lasting impact of Costa Rica's graduation from the
Caribbean Basin trade programs.

BIRDSALL

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