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Alternative Dimensions of Aid for Trade in Central America

Costa Rica (World Bank Group, 2006). All of a sudden, Costa Rica found itself on the international business map for all the right reasons. CINDE took this opportunity and, with INTEL’s support, it built a strategy to “spread the word,” which worked out to attract similarly important corporations. Intel executives, along with CINDE and government authorities, actively participated in the promotional meetings for Costa Rica as an investment location. Expert recommendations19 suggested that Costa Rica also needed to guarantee the generation of a local suppliers base so as to multiply the positive effect of investments in the economy while tightening trade relations with foreign companies to “anchor” their investment. The so-called “Costa Rica Provee” (Costa Rica Supplies) program was launched in 2000 under the purview of PROCOMER, the government’s export promotion agency. By 2006, with the support of multinational corporations (including, among others, Baxter and Intel) and IADB, which provided funding for a part of that initiative, the program had achieved 258 “viable” linkages between Costa Rican companies and multinationals.20 The Asian crisis in the late 1990s taught the Costa Rican authorities a lesson regarding the need to consider attracting new “anchor” investments that would counter the downturn in Intel exports. This time, efforts focused on the services sector and the medical devices industry. Intel actively cooperated with CINDE and the Costa Rican government in their efforts to attract such investments, by acting as a “signature project.” The efforts were worth it, and Costa Rica attracted companies such as Abbot Laboratories and Boston Scientific, in addition to the expansion of Baxter Healthcare into the field of medical devices, and of Procter & Gamble, Western Union and Sykes in the area of “back office” and technical support services, among others. These companies have also joined the governments’ efforts to attract further investments.


INCAE Business School and Prof. Michael Porter, of Harvard Business School, contributed by designing Costa Rica’s strategy to attract investments after INTEL had established in Costa Rica. 20 In 2003, Intel announced its “strategic” investment in the Costa Rican software company Exactus, which contributed to the launch of optimized business software for the management of small and medium enterprises in Latin America.


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