Nearshore Americas
Costa Rica and Cuba

Costa Rica, Cuba Strive to Promote Trade and "Dual Destination" Tourism

More than 50 Costa Rican business leaders accompanied President Luis Guillermo Solis on his first official visit to Cuba as the Central American country begins bolstering its trade relations with the communist island.
During the tour of Solis, reports say, the investment promotion agencies of the two countries signed several agreements. The two agencies –– Foreign Trade Corporation of Costa Rica (PROCOMER) and the Center for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba (PROCUBA) – also organized a string of meetings for the visiting businesspeople to explore opportunities.
Relations between Costa Rica and Cuba were strained until recently. In 1961, it broke ties with the island nation to protest Cuban support of leftist organizations in Central America. The relationship worsened further in 2006 when Costa Rican President Óscar Arias compared Fidel Castro’s human rights record to that of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet. But both the countries renewed formal diplomatic ties in 2009.
Today Costa Rica is one of Cuba’s main trade partners in the Southern Hemisphere. In 2014, when the United States began easing restrictions on Cuba, Costa Rica exported $38 million in goods and services to Cuba.
Cuba has reportedly promised Costa Ricas that it will do everything it could to dismantle all the blockades hindering foreign businesses from accessing its market.
The agreement signed by the investment promotion agencies requires both countries to exchange information on changing trade policies and all the other information businesses look for before investing.
“We are sure the agreement will benefit Costa Rican businesses already exporting to the Cuban market,” said Peter Beirute Prada, general manager of PROCOMER. “Even those wanting to explore business opportunities in the island will also be benefitted.”
According to World Bank figures, the Cuban economy is growing at a rate of 2.5% annually, reaching $70 billion in GDP in 2014.
It seems Costa Rica is also trying to cash in on Cuba’s popularity as a tourist destination. The two countries are now discussing the potential of offering “dual-destination packages” with connecting flights for tourists to visit both Cuba and Costa Rica on one trip. Currently, Cuba receives 3.5 million tourists each year, but that figure is expected to rise dramatically due to the increased ease of travel for U.S. citizens.

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Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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