How Are Costa Rica and Puerto Rico Similar?Agricultural Opportunities Reconcile Their Commercial “Marriage”

    Both countries are similar says Puerto Rican representative on visit to Costa Rica

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     “We had a good marriage for a long time that, for reasons that are not on the table, we stopped taking care of it (…) It was not given the affection that should have been given to a relationship between the two most important economies in this geographic basin”.

    The speaker is the Secretary of Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico, Manuel Cidre, and instead of romantic terms, he refers to the economic and commercial ties between the island and Costa Rica, where both countries have concentrated efforts in recent months.

    In May 2023, the Minister of Foreign Trade, Manuel Tovar, visited San Juan. Now it is Cidre who answers the trip and does so with a mission of more than 20 businessmen to enhance investment and exchange opportunities.

    “It is no longer a commercial mission that I take and bring. It is already a commercial mission to identify opportunities and synergies, so that we can maximize our strengths and reduce our weaknesses,” he said.

    In an interview, the leader detailed the options they see for commercial exchange, what draws their attention to Costa Rica and the intentions to have more rapprochements with other countries to face, together, external economic turbulence.

    Small but big

    Beyond the confusion between foreigners due to the name of the two states, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico have more similar factors. This is seen, above all, in the economic sphere and, particularly, in the foreign direct investment model. Both seek to position themselves as a destination for added value.

    “The least we want to differentiate ourselves is through low salaries. We want to differentiate ourselves by efficiency, by quality, by education and that is a search that cannot stop,” he points out.

    This is also part of the competition to attract investments, where companies, mostly associated with the medical area, have strengthened their presence. Trade authorities call for an analysis of the factors by which they choose these manufacturing, technological and administrative industries.

    Joining more

    Another point emphasized by Cidre is that, since they are smaller countries, they are exposed to the vicissitudes that come from other latitudes.”That is why it is important to create this region. Because there are circunstances that we do not control,” he says.”There are no longer individual formulas, there are collective formulas,” he points out.

    Along these lines, it proposes rapprochement, not only of Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, but also of nations such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, with similar economic scenarios.

    One of the proposals being tested would be a more active incorporation into the Alliance for Development in Democracy (ADD).”Minister Tovar and I are seeing how the representativeness of the United States in that group is Puerto Rico. It is important, it is the language, we know each other better than anyone. Without a doubt we have to demonstrate a genuine interest in working together,” he noted.

    Cidre heads the Puerto Rico Department of Development and Commerce. The portfolio was created in 2018 and brings together all economic activity in a single agency, covering 10 programs ranging from permits, incentives, human talent and tourism.

    The chances of Costa Rica

    Despite the similarities between both economies, the Puerto Rican leader points to several opportunities that Costa Rican production could have in its market.The main niche is in the agricultural part, since the island imports 88% of its consumption. With this, the sale of Costa Rican products could occur, but also collaboration between companies.

    “If I manage to bring Costa Rican agricultural inputs to Puerto Rico and I become a partner with a Costa Rican and we establish a plant in Puerto Rico, together, I can manufacture a finished product and do three things: I insert it into the Puerto Rican consumption chain that It is big, I substitute imports, I insert it into the consumption chain of the United States, I create jobs, I occupy buildings that I have available,” he explained.

    Another factor is the status of Puerto Rico within the United States, which opens the doors to enter the North American market.In contrast, this makes the island look for partners to approach other markets, which would help the country serve as a hub.

    “Because we are not sovereign, we cannot make agreements and treaties with any country, so any effort we are going to make, to mention one with Caricom, I have to find an ally to help me. The same thing I say with Peru, Uruguay, and jurisdictions in Central and South America where you have a presence” concluded the official.

    The lessons that the country gives

    Closing with the axis of differentiating factors, Cidre highlighted the country brand that Costa Rica continues to promote in environmental matters, which has helped it the most to position itself.

    “Our letter of introduction has to be “we are a territory of the United States,” he ironized, highlighting that he would like to have a format like the one the country has already positioned.

    “I would also love to have a letter of introduction from us. That says “Puerto Rico, the island of charm, where everyone knows each other, where we ensure the quality of life, for being the capital of knowledge, with a country of opportunities, that safeguards and cares for its children and elderly, and that “I don’t have it,” he argued.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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