Costa Rica: Offshore Business Sectors
Although Costa Rica is not an offshore financial center in the traditional sense its favorable tax regime means that it could have been classified as a tax haven some decades ago. However it was not until fairly recently that the Government became aware of its tax haven potential and began actively to both legislate for and market this sector of economic activity.
Costa Rica has many characteristics which give it a distinct advantage over other offshore jurisdictions including (as with Hong Kong) a perceived onshore jurisdictional status, very low taxes (see Domestic Corporate Taxation and Offshore Legal and Tax Regimes for further details) and a fiscal policy which does not discriminate between residents and non-residents for tax purposes.
A significant offshore banking industry does not as yet exist principally because the industry was only released from the shackles of state control in 1996. The lively domestic banking industry is described below.
There is no offshore insurance industry since the insurance sector remains under state control with significant political resistance being mounted against its privatization.
The country's biggest low-tax sector is grouped around the Free Zones (Export Processing Zones) and other export incentive programmes. These cover a wide variety of industry and service sectors, but special mention is given to the electronics sector below.