Costa Rica plans to set up a special economic zone specifically for Chinese enterprises willing to launch operations in the Central American country. According to reports in the local press, President Luis Guillermo Solís has struck a deal with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to bolster the bilateral relationship between their countries.
Costa Rica believes that the arrival of Chinese businesses will boost its economic prospects and it is desperate to create jobs in the manufacturing sector, especially after Intel closed its manufacturing unit last year. Intel’s business had employed 1,500 workers and accounted for 20% of Costa Rica’s exports.
Since assuming office, Solis has been touring the world, inviting international business groups to set up shop in his country. Recently, he unveiled the National Development Plan, whose main goal is to promote industries and create jobs.
There are few details about the proposed economic zone but some reports indicate that construction work could begin sometime in October this year.
A statement from Solis hints that the special economic zone will resemble the expansive factory clusters in Tianjin, in northern China. To begin with, the government will focus on sheltering companies in manufacturing automobiles and solar panels.
The Tico Times quoted Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora saying that the special economic zone will seek to “anchor” businesses that could spark the growth of homegrown Costa Rican suppliers and other businesses.
China has a strong presence in South America and it now seems to be focusing on gaining a greater foothold in Central America too. The major canal being built in Nicaragua to rival the Panama canal is also being funded by a Chinese businessman.