NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis is on a U.S. tour to promote foreign investment to his Central American nation.
Intel Corporation (INTC), which Solis said closed a factory in Costa Rica in early April, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs, recently announced that it will open a "mega-lab" in San Jose to test products, according to the San Jose-based Tico Times.
VMware (VMW), a Palo Alto-based software company has also recently agreed to invest in Costa Rica by increasing its 12-person staff to 200 within this year and another 150 by the end of 2015, according to NearShore Americas. Solis said he also plans to visit Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)'s headquarters, also in Palo Alto.
But high-tech firms aren't the only ones looking into Costa Rica. Although Bank of America (BAC) laid-off 1,500 employees in April by removing its customer services business from Costa Rica, Citi (C) invested $35 million to expand its a service center in the country, hiring another 500 employees.
Solis said that the size and quality of investments from major U.S. high-tech firms will help to demonstrate to other potential investors that Costa Rica is "an attractive destination for investment." Solis added 250 foreign companies invest in Costa Rica from a variety of sectors. Solis said he plans to promote all sorts of investment in Costa Rica of the "widest possible array of investments because we need them all."
Solis said that he is not only looking to attract foreign companies to Costa Rica, but to "link the local enterprises with the transnational global environment." He said that such efforts will help to develop local economies.
Costa Rica will be switching from a sales tax system to one based on VAT, or value-added-tax. Solis also said that the country is working to improve the quality of its infrastructure in an attempt to make the country more competitive. However "local" does not mean just Costa Rican. The Northern Caribbean Corridor when finalized will link ports on the northern Costa Rican border with Nicaragua with other ports in the Caribbean, easing trade within Central America.
Solis hopes to foster future innovation by further increasing and modifying the use of resources in education. Education is currently 7.2% of Costa Rica's GDP but he said should rise to 8% by the end of his term. Solis said he plans to foster a better use of investment in education by increasing the quality of technical education in public schools. With the better quality of the tech education, Solis said he hopes more high-tech jobs will become available in the coming years.
Solis says that Costa Rica is also aiming to do well in the World Cup, a difficult group that includes England, Italy and Uruguay.