Today’s guest is Eugenio Quiros Benamboug from the Costa Rican Association of Free Trade Zones (AZOFRAS).
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The Central American Group: Hello. Welcome to another installment of the Central American Group’s podcast. We talk to experts in Central America about doing business in the region. Today we are fortunate to have with us Eugenio Quiros Benambourg. Eugenio is the executive director of AZOFRAS, which is the Association of Free Trade Zones in Costa Rica. How are you today, Eugenio?
Eugenio Quiros: Hello. Good afternoon. Thank you for this opportunity.
The Central American Group: Eugenio, could you first tell us a little bit about yourself, and then, a little bit about your organization?
Eugenio Quiros: Hello everyone. My name is Eugenio Quiros Benambourg. I am the executive director of the Association of Free Trade Zones in Costa Rica (AZOFRAS). AZOFRAS is the representative of the Costa Rican Free Trade Zone sector. We are involved in the protection, defense, and, also, the development of business activity before governmental authorities, and, also, other private sector organizations. Since 1990, the Association of Free Trade Zones in Costa Rica has worked to improve the competitive positions of free zone companies and to provide solutions to obstacles that they face in terms of operations, and legal and fiscal issues among others. We also are a source of information and lobbying about the investment climate concerning the free trade zone regime, as well as are the recognized and qualified spokesman for companies operating under this regime in Costa Rica. We also generate awareness about the importance and positive impact in a socio-economic context of free trade zones in Costa Rica.
The Central American Group: Thank you for that explanation of your organization. Can you please give us some specific information on what exactly the free trade zone regime is?
Eugenio Quiros: For sure. The free trade zones in Costa Rica are the mainstay of the country’s investment and export promotion strategy. The zones are specifically a set of incentives and benefits granted by the Costa Rican Government to companies that make investments in Costa Rica. It provides tax incentives. There are several kinds of companies that can apply to be in free trade zones in Costa Rica. For instance, export services companies, manufacturing companies, scientific research firms, and free trade zone administrators, among others, can benefit from free trade zones in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s tax incentives and benefits are standardized. They apply to any and all companies according to their operations. Because of this, there is no need for negotiation on a case by case basis. In addition, entities wishing to set up operations in free trade zones in Costa Rica that are outside of the greater metropolitan area of San Jose can enjoy greater benefits.
The Central American Group: In terms of benefits that you are referring to, can you give an example of one that is enjoyed by companies that have set up operations in Costa Rica in a free trade zone?
Eugenio Quiros: Yes. Companies that set up in free trade zones in Costa Rica can apply for income tax benefits and also, for instance, import tax relief. The program in Costa Rica is mainly a tax regime that is granted to companies that are making investments in the country.
The Central American Group: What kinds of companies are members of AZOFRAS and are tenants in free trade zones in Costa Rica?
Eugenio Quiros: The Association of Free Trade Zone Companies in Costa Rica groups together three types of businesses. These are free trade zone enterprises, free trade zone parks, and also suppliers. For instance, the last group can be made up of corporate services companies.
The Central American Group: Could you give us an approximate or exact, if you know, number of companies that are members of AZOFRAS?
Eugenio Quiros: At present, AZOFRAS has more than one hundred and fifty companies in its membership. This number represents, more or less, forty percent of the total companies that are in free trade zones in Costa Rica.
The Central American Group: What does your organization provide to those members in terms of services?
Eugenio Quiros: In AZOFRAS, we provide many kinds of services to our members. For instance, we provide technical advice regarding the free trade zone regime in the operational, legal, and fiscal areas. We also provide guidance and counseling on issues that are related to permits, procedures, and requirements that are specific to free trade zones in Costa Rica. We also provide statistical information on the free trade zone regime in Costa Rica and other countries. This is thanks to our partnership with the World Free Trade Organization and the Association of Free Trade Zones of the Americas (ASPA). We also offer support and guidance in the solution to obstacles related to the benefits of the free trade zone regime. Another service that is very important is the representation of the free trade zone sector before governmental authorities and other private sector organizations. Finally, we provide training related to the functioning and administration of free trade zones in Costa Rica.
The Central American Group: What are some of the reasons why companies should consider setting up operations in Costa Rica?
Eugenio Quiros: Well, this is a very good question. Costa Rica is internationally distinguished for many reasons. I could say that, firstly, the country has a proven track record. It has enjoyed more than one hundred years of a solid and stable democracy. Its economic stability and its innovation have made Costa Rica one of the top choices in the region of foreign investors. Costa Rica is the beneficiary of a strategic location because it is located in the hear of the Americas. It is connected to the world primarily by air and sea. Also, the country is a cradle for human talent. For those investors that seek excellence, Costa Ricans are well-educated and kind people that embrace challenges and welcome opportunities. Costa Rica also has a solid utility infrastructure. The country has a powerful, redundant, and plentiful energy supply that utilizes renewable energy that provides power to strategically located industrial parks and business centers. Finally, Costa Rica has great weather. The country enjoys a perfect climate that provides ideal conditions for several industries. Companies located in free zones in Costa Rica never shut down due to adverse weather. We are rarely affected by tropical storms. These are just some of the reasons why Costa Rica is the best investment option in the region. We invite you all to personally discover all that the country can offer.
The Central American Group: Eugenio, could I add one more item beyond the things that you have mentioned?
Eugenio Quiros: Tell me.
The Central American Group: Costa Rica has wonderful beaches, both on the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts.
Eugenio Quiros: You can join the country, nature, and business.
The Central American Group: One of the things that we always do in these podcasts is to ask the individuals that we are conversing with how listeners may contact them. How would listeners get in touch with you? What is the address of your organization’s website?
Eugenio Quiros: Our website address is www.azofras.com. You can also find us on Facebook as AZOFRAS. Let’s get in touch.
The Central American Group: Do you have an email address that people can use if they wish to get in touch with you directly?
Eugenio Quiros: Yes. My email address is email@example.com.
The Central American Group: Thank you very much for the information. I am sure that it will be of interest to people seeking to do business in free trade zones in Costa Rica. We want to thank you for joining us and we wish you a good day.