LN WEEKLY REVIEW

Costa Rica, Viernes 29 de agosto de 2008

/WEEKLY REVIEW

Weekly review

Trade deficit

The deficit of the trade balance has kept on increasing. According to information from the Central Bank of Costa Rica, the exports of goods in the 12 months to last July reached $9,680 million, an 8.7 percent increase as compared to the period to July 2007. The upward trend of exports has continued, but it is steadily slowing down. Meanwhile, imports of goods in the period mentioned amounted to $14,934 million, a 23 percent increase over the year to July 2007. The trade balance deficit is part of the current account, which also comprises services such as tourism.

Decreasing dependence

Currently, Costa Rican exports are less dependent of the U.S. market than in the recent past. This is so because of the increase in sales to Asian, Central American and Caribbean markets. The sales to the U.S. went from 47 percent of the overall sales abroad in 2003 to 35 percent in 2007, according to data from the Promoter of Foreign Trade (PROCOMER in Spanish). However, the United States remains the leading destination of Costa Rican exports. Last year, Costa Rica sold $9,343 million abroad, 35 percent or $3,288 million of them to the U.S. Asia bought 21 percent, Central America and the Caribbean another 21 percent, Europe 15 percent and the balance 8 percent went to other destinations. The Minister of Foreign Trade Marco Ruiz said that it is ideal to depend less on the U.S., but that sales there must not decrease.

Lower deficit

The deficit of the Central Bank dropped to half during this year’s first half. The decrease in expenses over income decreased as compared to the same period in 2007. The deficit in the first six months this year reached 0.2 percent of the output estimated for the year, while it reached 0.43 percent a year ago. For the current year, the Central Bank estimates a 0.6 percent overall deficit, the best performance in 25 years, since the 1980s crisis.

Green airline

Nature Air, the first carbon neutral airline in the world, was chosen among 142 companies that reached the final stage of the World Savers Awards 2009 of Conde Nast Traveler. The awards honor travel companies around the world for their leadership in social responsibility spanning five areas: fighting poverty, conservation of the environment and the culture, education, preservation of wildlife, and health. Nature Air, selected as one of the 38 finalists, is known for its commitment to the environment. The airline compensates 100 percent of its carbon emissions through the preservation of tropical forests.

Space brew

Thanks to the cleverness of two young Costa Ricans, very soon astronauts and space tourists will be able to enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee while they are 300 kilometers (some 188 miles) above the surface of the Earth. Inspired in an idea by former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang, Daniel Rozen and Jaime Solano, maintenance engineering students at the Costa Rican Institute of Technology (ITCR in Spanish), developed the device. Most important, the gadget will not be solely to brew coffee, because it will be used in experiments leading, for example, to the development of new medicines.

Access to the Web

The Costa Rican Power and Telecommunications Institution (ICE in Spanish) bought an access route to the Internet which is less prone to accidents caused by ships or fishing nets, and thus would lower the chances of events that would interrupt the service in Costa Rica. The new link is the CFX-1 cable, which runs deeper than others and which spans thousands of miles in the Caribbean Sea, from Cartagena, Colombia, to Miami. Costa Rica will connect to this optic fiber highway via an extension to Panama. With the CFX-1, which belongs to Columbus Network, Costa Rica has four connections to the Internet; the others are Arcos and Maya (both in the Caribbean) and Global Crossing (in the Pacific).

New processors

Intel Costa Rica is betting on the launching of five new processors to raise its sales abroad, which decreased during this year’s first half. The new processors (three for servers and two for PCs) are a lot faster. The processors assembled at Intel’s plant in Belen, Heredia, will be on the market in the coming months.

Fuel for traffickers

The Costa Rican police busted a ring that engaged in trafficking cocaine and heroine in the Caribbean. Thirteen people, including 2 officers who acted as informants, were arrested. Official sources said that the gang used subsidized gasoline for the boats, because local Limon fishermen were involved. They added that the drug came from Colombia and at Limon was rerouted to Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States, among other destinations.

Communist treasurer

The police arrested a former treasurer of the Russian Communist Party, Nikolai Korobkov, 54, upon receiving an international arrest warrant. He is wanted in his nation for embezzlement. Korobkov has lived in Costa Rica since 1998 and developed several business activities here. He had been arrested here before, but Russian authorities did not follow through with the procedures, so he had to be released. Meanwhile, he obtained refugee status here and unless the contrary is proven by Russian authorities, his extradition is not likely to take place.

$11.5 million scam

The Costa Rican police arrested Cuban American Pedro Rodriguez, 33, who is wanted in the United States for an $11.5 million scam. According to the police, Rodriguez had been hiding in Costa Rica for about a year.

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