Costa Rica - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers
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There are no significant trade barriers affecting the entry of most goods and services into Costa Rica.  The country continues to unify and lower its tariffs in compliance with its commitments to Central American neighbors, World Trade Organization obligations, and tariff reduction schedules under CAFTA-DR.  Costa Rica is a member of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters (group of countries seeking more market access and less protection for domestic agricultural production). This position has critics within Costa Rica’s agricultural sector.  Opponents of free agricultural trade occasionally attempt to block imports of some domestically sensitive items, such as rice, potatoes, avocadoes, and onions.  The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock enforces strict sanitary and phytosanitary controls on imports of agricultural products.  For instance, the market for U.S. potatoes was closed in 2013 and reopened for industrial-use potatoes in 2016 following almost three years of negotiations; the market remains closed for table-stock potatoes.

The main issues related to non-tariff trade barriers are found in the process of registering pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.  The Costa Rican government requires a Good Manufacturing Practices Certificate which is not issued in most states in the U.S. The manufacturer needs to invest time finding the right entity that can add the information required by the Costa Rican government as part of the Free Sales Certificate. In certain cases, a U.S. company can be exempted by proving that their state of residence is unable to provide the certificate. There is an exception for members of the U.S. Council of Cosmetic Products, an association that only issues this certificate to their members.

Beginning in 2014, U.S. producers of dietary supplements expressed concerns regarding Costa Rican product registration and technical regulations related to nutritional and dietary supplements.  Because the United States does not regulate dietary supplements as pharmaceuticals, U.S. manufacturers of these products generally do not have the certification and product analysis that is required for products to be sold in Costa Rica under the Central American Technical Regulation for Natural Medicines.

The electronic procurement platform, Sistema Integrado de Compras P├║blicas (SICOP), provides a single purchasing platform for all participating ministries with an entirely paperless procurement process based on a secure database, allowing enhanced levels of transparency and competition in the procurement process.  All Costa Rican Government agencies are legally obligated to migrate to the system, and most have done so as of October 2020.  As a digital platform, SICOP requires that suppliers use the Costa Rican digital signature; however, SICOP offers an alternative digital signature for foreign suppliers through GlobalSign and, as of March 2021, approximately 700 foreign firms had registered through that facility, many of them actively participating with bids.