2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
Costa Rica has bilateral investment treaties (BITs) in force with Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and Venezuela. Treaty texts are on the COMEX website ( ). The investment chapter of CAFTA-DR includes all aspects of a BIT thereby making a separate BIT with the United States unnecessary. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ( ) features a parallel list of both signed investment treaties and those entered into force.
Costa Rica has in-force free trade agreements (FTA) with five groupings of countries. The Central American Free Trade Agreement CAFTA-DR is with the United States, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Dominican Republic. The European Union Association Agreement with Central America is with all EU members, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama. The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) free trade agreement is with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Panama and Guatemala. The free trade agreement with the Caribbean nations of CARICOM is with Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Belize, and Jamaica. With Costa Rica’s March 2019 ratification of the South Korea Central American Free Trade Agreement between South Korea, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, that FTA is now in force between Costa Rica and South Korea. Costa Rica also has individual FTAs with Canada, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Chile, China, and Singapore. Costa Rica in recent years has slowed the pace at which it has negotiated and signed new free trade agreements.
Costa Rican and U.S. tax authorities currently coordinate under the terms of two agreements, a Taxation Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) signed in 1989, and a U.S-Costa Rica intergovernmental agreement titled “Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica to Improve International Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA” signed in December 2013 and expected to enter-into-force (EIF) during 2019. Costa Rica has active bilateral or regional tax information exchange agreements with 16 other jurisdictions, in addition to a number of signed agreements that are not yet in force; see the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes for the full list: . Of those 16 agreements, two (Germany, Spain) are “Double Tax Conventions” that address overlapping tax obligations in addition to simple information exchange. Costa Rica is also a party to the OECD “Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters,” which entered into force in August 2013: .
In accordance with its international commitments to address the use of corporate tax havens, the Costa Rican government in 2013 adopted a new set of transfer pricing rules, followed by their implementation regulations [DGT-R-44-2016 published by the internal revenue department (DGT) of the Finance Ministry] in September 2016. Large transnational companies must declare and justify the transfer-pricing methods they are using in a manner consistent with international norms.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Corporations in Costa Rica, particularly those in the export and tourism sectors, generally enjoy a positive reputation within the country as engines of growth and practitioners of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC). The Costa Rica government actively highlights its role in attracting high-tech companies to Costa Rica; the strong RBC culture that many of those companies cultivate has become part of that winning package. Large multinational companies commonly pursue RBC goals in line with their corporate goals and have found it beneficial to publicize RBC orientation and activities in Costa Rica. Many smaller companies, particularly in the tourism sector, have integrated community outreach activities into their way of doing business. There is a general awareness of RBC among both producers and consumers in Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican government maintains and enforces laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protection and environmental protection. Costa Rica has no mineral extraction industry with its accompanying issues. Costa Rica encourages foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted RBC principles such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE) and maintains a national contact point for OECD MNE guidelines within the Ministry of Foreign Trade (see ).
Some Costa Rican government agencies took the principles of public-private partnership to heart by working with private companies in addressing specific social issues. For example, since 2003 the Foundation Paniamor ( ) is the designated lead agency in Costa Rica guiding the network of 428 (through December 2018) tourism-related businesses which are signatories to the “Code of Conduct” an initiative of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT). The purpose of this code is to organize and direct the private sector’s work against the sexual commercial exploitation of children and adolescents.