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Costa Rica – United States relations
Costa Rica   United States
Map indicating location of Costa Rica and USA
     Costa Rica      United States

Costa Rica – United States relations are historically close and friendly as Costa Rica generally supports the U.S. in international fora, especially in the areas of democracy and human rights.


The United States is Costa Rica's most important trading partner. The U.S. accounts for almost half of Costa Rica's exports, imports, and tourism, and more than two-thirds of its foreign investment. The two countries share growing concerns for the environment and want to preserve Costa Rica's important tropical resources and prevent environmental degradation. In 2007, the United States reduced Costa Rica's debt in exchange for protection and conservation of Costa Rican forests through a debt for nature swap under the auspices of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act. This is the largest such agreement of its kind to date.

The United States responded to Costa Rica's economic needs in the 1980s with significant economic and development assistance programs. Through provision of more than $1.1 billion in assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Costa Rican efforts to stabilize its economy and broaden and accelerate economic growth through policy reforms and trade liberalization. Assistance initiatives in the 1990s concentrated on democratic policies, modernizing the administration of justice, and sustainable development. Once the country had graduated from most forms of U.S. assistance, the USAID Mission in Costa Rica closed in 1996. However, USAID completed a $9 million project in 2000-01 to support refugees of Hurricane Mitch residing in Costa Rica.

For decades, Peace Corps volunteers have provided technical assistance in the areas of environmental education, natural resources, management, small business development, microfinance, basic business education, urban youth, and community education.

Between 30,000-50,000 private American citizens, including many retirees, reside in the country and more than 700,000 American citizens visit Costa Rica annually. A few vexing expropriation and U.S. citizen investment disputes have hurt Costa Rica's investment climate and have occasionally produced bilateral friction.

The U.S.-Costa Rica Maritime Cooperation Agreement, the first of its kind in Central America, entered into force in late 1999. The agreement, which facilitates cooperation between the Coast Guard of Costa Rica and the U.S. Coast Guard, has resulted in a growing number of narcotics seizures, illegal migrant rescues, illegal fishing seizures, and search-and-rescue missions. Bilateral Costa Rican law enforcement cooperation, particularly against narcotrafficking, has been exemplary.

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica is in San Jose. The positions of Ambassador and APHIS are vacant. The Deputy Chief of Mission, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim is Peter M. Brennan. The Political Counselor is David E. Henifin. The Economic Officer is Mark Kissel. The Consul General is David Dreher. The Management Counselor is Brian Wilson. The Public Affairs Counselor is Magda Siekert. The Defense Representative is Chief-Commander Mark Camacho, USCG. The Commercial Attache is James McCarthy. The Agricultural Attache is Katherine Nishiura. The Environmental Hub official is Bernard Link. The Regional Security Officer is S. Wade DeWitt. The Drug Enforcement Administration official is Paul Knierim. The Peace Corps Director is Terry Grumley. The OFDA Director is Tim Callaghan.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]

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