Despite a 9 per cent decline in overseas shipments last year, Costa Rica recorded a 22 per cent growth in export value in January as sendings rose to US$727.9m, according to figures released by the country’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office (Procomer) and reported by The Tico Times.

Several of the country’s export sectors experienced considerable growth in the first month of the year, led by the agriculture industry, which recorded a 28 per cent and 69 per cent increase in pineapple and melon sendings respectively in comparison to January 2009.

Coffee and bananas, Costa Rica’s traditional export items, also showed signs of rebounding from a difficult 2009, when banana exports fell by 15 per cent and coffee by over 31 per cent, with both products enjoying a growth in shipments during January.

“The numbers indicate the possibilities for growth for the banana industry in new markets,” explained Marco Vinicio Ruiz, Costa Rica’s foreign trade minister. “These results allow us to continue with the established projections of the commercial agenda, which we expect to be favourable in the export market as we enter new markets.”

Of the export total, 40 per cent of shipments in January were sent to North America (up 181 per cent on January 2009), 19 per cent to Asia (+76 per cent) and 17 per cent to the European Union (EU). The balance was distributed within Central America and the Caribbean.

Earlier this year, Costa Rica also finalised Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Singapore and China, and this week will enter the seventh round of FTA discussions with the EU.