Costa Rica: Offshore Business Sectors
Costa Rica's Export Processing Zones and other investment incentive regimes provide a nearly tax-free environment for export-oriented companies in a variety of industries, but the most high-profile investor has probably been Intel, whose Costa Rican chip-manufacturing facility exports nearly $2bn worth of chips each year.
Apart from electronics manufacturing operations, there is a thriving software and it development sector in San Jose, which appropriately shares its name with Silicon Valley's main city.
The Chamber of Software Producers of Costa Rica (Caprosoft), created in 1998 by fifteen founding member software firms, was able to obtain the first technical cooperation project to increase the competitiveness of a sector software granted by the Inter American Development Bank (IADB) through its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).
In 2003 Caprosoft developed an intense strategic planning process which resulted in a broad national vision for creating a solid ICT cluster. The planning process and vision design took more than a year to construct and yielded the Information and Communication Technology National Strategy which was named: 'Costa Rica; Green & Smart'.
In June, 2004, Caprosoft broadened its representative remit by becoming the Costa Rican Chamber of Information and Communication Technologies (CAMTIC). Many of the organisation's members have substantial export businesses and a number of factors have assisted the growth of this industry, including: the removal of import duties on computers in the early 1980s; the availability of highly educated labour; the small size of Costa Rica's internal market which has driven companies to look for business elsewhere; and the benign fiscal regime.
CAMTIC, the Government and the Inter-American Development Bank are co-operating to try to encourage the growth of the software sector, particularly through strengthening the supply of venture capital.
In August, 2006, US computer firm Hewlett Packard announced a major expansion of its call-centre operation in Costa Rica, which already employed 3,300 staff at that time.
In September, 2008, CAMTIC welcomed the government's plan to create a National Plan of Formation of Human Resource in IT.
"The commitment of the Presidency to create a high level commission that proposes this plan in three months, is a fundamental step not only to improve the competitiveness of the sector of Technologies of Information and Communication (IT), but of all the Costa Rican economy", said Alexander Mora Delgado, President of CAMTIC.