Economic Activity Consolidates Recovery Driven by Free Trade Zones in Costa Rica

    Passing the page on the Pandemic

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    Costa Rican economic activity consolidates its recovery after the hit of the Covid-19 pandemic. The impulse mainly comes from the production of companies that operate in special regimes such as free zones.

    Last August, economic activity was three consecutive months above the pre-pandemic level (February 2020), according to the most recent data from the Monthly Index of Economic Activity (IMAE), published this past Tuesday night.

    The indicator, estimated by the Central Bank, reached the level of 109.0 in August. In July it was 108.3 and in June it was 107.4. These levels exceed 107.1 in February 2020, before business closures, reduced capacity and circulation restrictions were put in place to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The IMAE allows estimating the evolution of the economy in the short term. The base year is 2017, whose value is 100. Variations over time are measured from that level.

    Growth engine

    The special regimes have served as engines of economic activity practically since May 2020. In this sector, the levels of pre-pandemic activity recovered since October 2020. Despite strong double-digit growth over the past year, the sector has slowed in recent months. In August the interannual variation was 25.2%.

    In contrast, the definitive regime – which represents 90% of national production – has not yet exceeded the level of pre-pandemic economic activity. The variation with respect to a year earlier was 9.2%. As a whole, the IMAE registered a variation of 11.6% in the eighth month compared to a year earlier.

    At a different pace

    Construction showed a year-on-year growth of 17.6% last August. This figure was mainly influenced by construction with private origin, whose growth was 29%, compared to a contraction of 12.5% ​​in construction with public origin.

    The agricultural sector as a whole registered a growth of 5%. There, the main driver is exportable products (bananas, pineapple, coffee, among others), whose interannual growth was 14.3%.

    The manufacturing industry reported a year-on-year growth of 16.6%. While the activity in free zones registered a variation of 36.5% (driven by medical devices), in the definitive regime the growth was 7.4%.

    The commercial sector grew by 14.1% year-on-year in August, influenced by the growth in activities related to construction materials, the sale of vehicles and the sale of electrical and household appliances.

    Resonance Costa Rica

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