Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is traveling to San Jose on June 1-2, 2021, to a meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA) convened by Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada. In Costa Rica, he will meet with President Alvarado and Foreign Minister Rodolfo Solano Quirós to discuss the strong U.S.-Costa Rica partnership and to advance collaboration on regional and global issues, including migration, counternarcotics, human rights, and climate change.
A Relationship Based on Shared Values and Commitments
- Costa Rica, a strong democracy of more than five million people with deep ties to the United States, is important to key U.S. goals in the region and is committed to continued close cooperation with the United States. It has an open trade and investment climate, and recently became the 38th member of the OECD. It is also one of the strongest and most reliable voices in Latin America on human rights and rule of law, and has been a superb partner in the fight against transnational crime and drug trafficking.
- The United States is Costa Rica’s top trading partner, accounting for around 40 percent of both imports and exports. The United States is also Costa Rica’s top source of foreign direct investment, reaching $1.92 billion in 2019 (70% of total FDI) . There are currently more than 200 U.S. companies in Costa Rica that collectively employ more than 94,000 people, or nearly 84 percent of all jobs created by multinational companies in Costa Rica.
- Costa Rica is a champion of human rights and democratic norms across the region, including through its active role in the Organization of American States (OAS). Costa Rica has condemned fraudulent parliamentary elections in Venezuela and supported the OAS resolution calling for electoral reform in Nicaragua. Additionally, Costa Rica hosts more than 450,000 Nicaraguans, including 110,000 people who fled Nicaragua after the 2018 political crisis, many of whom are currently seeking refugee status in Costa Rica. Costa Rica also hosts nearly 30,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees. The Costa Rican government has extended several additional protections, work permits, and travel documentation to some segments of this population, a valuable humanitarian response to Venezuelans and Nicaraguans who cannot return to their country of origin given continued instability.
- Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 120,000 private American citizens, including many retirees, resided in the country; more than 1.4 million American citizens visited Costa Rica annually. Pre-pandemic, more than 1,100 Costa Ricans studied at U.S. institutions of higher education annually. More than 8,000 U.S. students study in Costa Rica every year, and Costa Rica is the number one destination in Latin America for U.S. study abroad programs.
- Costa Rica is a valuable counter-narcotics partner. In 2020, Costa Rican security services seized more than 71 metric tons of drugs, including a record 18.6 metric tons found in commercial containers. U.S.-donated interceptor vessels, as well as equipment and training provided to the Costa Rican Coast Guard, along with joint operations, led to a record number of maritime seizures in 2020.
- The United States has partnered with Costa Rica in an effort to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a swift end. U.S. assistance of more than $4 million to Costa Rica includes personal protective equipment, medical supplies, hygiene supplies to support in-person education, and mobile hospitals.