The legal initiative establishes a series of benefits for companies that make new investments in Costa Rica outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA) under the Free Trade Zone modality. It means that the procedures for income, compliance with obligations and other procedures related to the operation of these companies will be governed by the Free Zone Law and its amendments.
The Law for Strengthening Territorial Competitiveness to Promote the Attraction of Investments Outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (Law 10.234) introduces 11 new incentives to attract investment in areas outside the GMA that improve competitiveness for sectors such as agribusiness, food industry, manufacturing, tourism infrastructure and services.
The law became effective as of May 23, 2022, following its publication in Costa Rica’s official gazette La Gaceta, and the Executive Branch has six months from that date to submit regulations.
Some of the changes instituted by the law are related to:
- It expands to three new categories to operate in Free Trade Zone, with lower investment requirements and differentiated conditions. These include human health services, inputs (agricultural, livestock and fishing) and tourism (sustainable adventure parks).
- The Single Investment Window (VUI) is strengthened. It streamlines the opening of companies and their entry into operation, with the establishment of maximum deadlines for resolving the different public entities. In addition, in order to provide sustainability to the VIU, Procomer is authorized to charge a fee , and a one-year term is established, as from the publication of the law, for municipalities that have not yet adhered to the VUI system to do so.
- It lowers from $500,000 to $250,000, the initial investment amount for companies that establish outside the GMA, outside an industrial park.
- The NLI (National Learning Institute) will promote academic offerings that meet the technical-professional needs of companies, with priority to education and training in areas outside the GMA.
- Service companies outside the GMA will have a greater opportunity for operation, following adjustments to the Strategic Services Eligibility Index (IEES) section of the Free Trade Zone Law.
- Temporary reduction of social charges for companies benefiting from Law 10.234: exemption for 5 years of contributions, which extends for 10 years.It does not affect the contributions considered as vital. It demanded the reform of four taxes (Banco Popular, Fodesaf, IMAS and INA).
As a consequence of the decentralizing measures, the areas outside the GMA will obtain benefits such as: creation of more jobs, advances in the quality of infrastructure, regional competitiveness, establishment of companies of diverse nature, positive effect on the office market, improvement of regional competitiveness and obtaining better income for the populations outside the GMA and for Costa Rica.