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Country Forecast Costa Rica December 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Costa Rica December 2017 Updater

  • December 2017
  • ID: 358890
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • Luis Guillermo Solís of the Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC) is in the final year of his four-year term, which begun in May 2014. A fractious legislature will continue to complicate policymaking, particularly as the PAC holds only 12 seats out of a possible 57, the smallest tally of any ruling party in Costa Rican history. A fragmented party system will continue to hamper governability, regardless of who wins the presidency in the election in February 2018. At this early stage The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana is in the best position to win.
  • Costa Rica's most pressing macroeconomic concern is the need for comprehensive tax reform to reduce the non-financial public-sector deficit, which has exceeded 5% of GDP since 2013. A fiscal reform package is unlikely to be passed before the next election, which will keep the deficit high in the short term. We assume that, despite some fiscal adjustments later in the forecast period, the public debt/GDP ratio will continue to rise, reaching a peak of 76.3% of GDP in 2021, raising concerns over debt sustainability.
  • Following estimated GDP growth of 3.8% in 2017, we expect growth to average 4.2% in 2018-22. Chiefly arising from the Dominican Republic-Central America Free-Trade Agreement, firm investment inflows will boost high-technology manu-facturing and services (most of which are externally oriented) in the medium term. However, structural dependence on external (mainly US) demand will persist, and growth will also be negatively affected by high unemployment and low productivity in domestically oriented sectors.
  • Inflation will rise to 3.6% by end-2018, and will remain above 3% in 2019-22 as oil prices rise gradually. A weakening of the colón, after years of overvaluation, will marginally improve export competitiveness. The current-account deficit will widen slightly from a 3.7% of GDP in 2018 to an average of 3.9% of GDP in 2019-20-below the level of previous years, owing to lower global oil prices compared with the pre-2015 period, but still high because of a large structural trade deficit.
  • Despite Costa Rica's relative affluence (nominal GDP per head is above the regional average in US dollar terms), the attractiveness of the market is impaired by its small size, with an estimated population of just 4.9m in 2017. Poverty levels are low, but have risen since the global recession in 2009, and the country has seen increasing levels of inequality over the past decade. However, a large middle class will continue to be supportive of growth in consumer demand.

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