EspañolChinese President Xi Jinping announced on January 6 an unconditional US$24 million donation to Costa Rica, helping to fund the Central American nation’s National Development Plan over the next five years.
Both countries also signed an agreement to develop a special economic zone (SEZ) in Costa Rican territory. The announcements come during the state visit of Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solís to China, under the auspices of the inaugural summit between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC).
In a press release, President Solís hailed the potential for SEZs to attract Chinese investment in Costa Rica. “This will create a platform for Chinese companies to come into the country to produce solar panels, cars, or technology that China needs, but doesn’t currently have.”
SEZs are territorial pockets typically enjoying tax breaks to attract foreign investments, an initiative that China began to experiment with in the 1980s.
Feasibility studies will first have to determine which region will host the zones, but Solís stressed the need to generate “more employment though more Chinese investment”.
Among other protocols signed was an agreement to create special legislation facilitating the export of shrimp from Costa Rica’s coastal areas to the Asian market.
The Chinese-CELAC summit, the first of its kind, is taking place in Beijing throughout Thursday and Friday. Several regional heads of state are in attendance, among them Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. Correa has already secured US$7.5 billion of Chinese credit to plug an economic shortfall caused by plummeting oil prices.
Close relations between the People’s Republic and Costa Rica date back to June of 2007 when San José established ties with Beijing, simultaneously ceasing relations with its one-time diplomatic ally Taiwan.