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Korea, Costa Rica only grasping ‘tip of the iceberg’ of potential, Costa Rican president says

Nov. 30, 2021 - 11:32 By Sanjay Kumar
Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada speaks to The Korea Herald at the Millennium Hilton Seoul on Nov. 24. (Office of the President of Costa Rica)
Intel, Bayer and others have established and increased operations in Costa Rica, trusting its political, social and economic stability, but Korean companies are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities in Costa Rica, the country’s President Carlos Alvarado Quesada said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Nov. 24.

Alvarado encouraged Korean companies to make the most of key opportunities in aerospace, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, transnational services, information technology and the manufacturing of microprocessors, citing examples of more than 300 multinational companies in Costa Rica.

According to Alvarado, global companies recognized the quality of Costa Rican human talent and region-leading English speaking resources, which led to growth in foreign investment even during the pandemic.

Alvarado highlighted Costa Rica’s technically and linguistically suitable human talent, strategic location with proximity to big markets such as the United States, free trade agreements and tax structure, rule of law, robust democracy, stability and sustainability as major reasons that make Costa Rica a potential investment destination for Koreans.

He urged Korean companies to partner with Costa Rica’s exports in agriculture and food industries specifying medical devices as Costa Rica’s first export nowadays.

“Koreans must know that in the middle of the Americas, they have a key partner that shares lots of those values, in which we can do good things for the environment, for peace, and also for business,” Alvarado said in proposing cooperation with the 5 million inhabitants of Costa Rica.

Alvarado recommended Koreans travel to Costa Rica for tourism, business and leisure. 

“It’s a full package of great things waiting to be discovered,” he added.

Alvarado hoped to bolster Costa Rica-Korea bilateral cooperation and regionally cooperate as a key partner for Korea in Central and South America, underlining commitment on digital technology, hydrogen, electric mobility, tourism, film industry and advancing medical trials for research in the health sector.

The president cited the free trade agreement between Costa Rica and Korea that went into effect in March as well as an agreement on the bio economy as foundation for sustainability and growth.

According to Alvarado, Costa Rica has competitive advantages for companies seeking to grow in a greener way because Costa Rica’s electricity is clean and renewable.

“Costa Rica has 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity,” he said.

The president proposed joint research on diversity and trade with Costa Rica’s National Institute of Housing and Urbanism to thrive in market ecosystems.

Alvarado affirmed a summit with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in as successful because the two countries reached a new level in a concrete way.

The two leaders agreed to develop bilateral relations into an “action-oriented comprehensive partnership” from the current comprehensive partnership and adopted a joint declaration to promote collaboration.

Alvarado said signing four agreements, including for trilateral cooperation, is significant for Costa Rica, South Korea, the Caribbean and Central American countries. 

“We are moving into integral association for joint action,” he said.

Alvarado also upheld that Korea’s Green New Deal aligned with Costa Rica’s decarbonization plan.

According to Alvarado, Costa Rica launched its decarbonization plan in February 2019 in line with the Paris Agreement of 2015, and has since worked with Korea in establishing its Green New Deal.

“The commonalities are just amazing,” he said.

“Costa Rica is living the high ambition coalition for earth nature for the goal of 30 by 30, that means protection of 30 percent of the ocean and the land by 2030, and that’s one of the great outcomes of also Glasgow,” Alvarado said of Costa Rica’s climate action plan, referring to the recent global climate conference in Scotland.

He mentioned a recent agreement with the Global Green Growth Institute and the opening of a facility in Costa Rica as concrete takeaways during his state visit.

Costa Rica signed an agreement with the GGGI on Monday to open an office in Costa Rica.