Remarks at the Launch of Costa Rica's Semiconductor and Technology Investment Forum

In Forum remarks, AS/COA Vice President Eric Farnsworth discussed the Central American country's economic potential.

Remarks at the Launch of Costa Rica’s Semiconductor and Technology Investment Forum

Vice President of Americas Society/Council of the Americas
Eric Farnsworth

San José, Costa Rica

March 21, 2024


What a pleasure it is to be back in San José, and to have the opportunity to join all of you for this very important and extremely timely initiative to launch Costa Rica’s semiconductor roadmap and next phase of economic development. 

I commend the government of Costa Rica for this initiative, under the leadership of President Rodrigo Chaves and also my very good friend Manuel Tovar, both of whom you’ll be hearing from in a moment. 

It’s also a great pleasure to have the opportunity to share a program with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, a strong advocate for business and the economic and strategic importance of nearshoring and resilient supply chains. Gina Raimondo is a star in President Biden’s cabinet, and she was just with the President in Arizona launching a major semiconductor program there. She is making a real difference in Washington and beyond, and we are very lucky to have her. 

And I also want to note my friend John Neuffer from the Semiconductor Industry Association, who will speak shortly, and also Foreign Minister Tinoco and Technology Minister Bogantes. And a special appreciation for the presence of General Laura Richardson, someone with a profound understanding of the links between technology, economic growth, and national security. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Costa Rica is a nation on the move. Since I traveled here in 1997 with then-U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White House, the country has literally been transformed. It’s a result in part due to significant direct foreign investment from the United States and elsewhere, in part due to freer trade through CAFTA-DR, and fully due to the creative vision and full and inclusive leadership of Costa Ricans themselves. 

But some things haven’t changed at all since that time…strong democratic traditions and national institutions…political and economic stability…a safe haven for investment…an educated workforce…social balance…and the ambition to succeed in the global economy. 

And, of course, pura vida

We’re not just talking about agriculture or eco-tourism or light manufacturing, which have been and continue to be important drivers of Costa Rican success…we’re now also talking about advanced manufacturing like semiconductors and other cutting-edge products. 

Costa Rica has advanced from banana chips to computer chips. 

You all know that semiconductors power the global economy, making diversified, resilient supply chains not just a nice thing to do, but a core element of global economic competitiveness and a national security imperative. President Biden in Arizona just reaffirmed this point. 

And as the global economy resets after the Covid pandemic, Costa Rica, which has played such a pioneering regional role in the sector, has emerged in a solid position, able to offer solutions to pressing supply chain vulnerabilities including assembly, testing, and packaging (ATP). As supply chains relocate and nearshoring expands, Costa Rica is an obvious and logical partnership option. 

You know, the celebrated American singer Dionne Warwick once asked if we, “know the way to San José.” Well, ladies and gentlemen, the United States has already designated Costa Rica a strategic ally under the Chips and Science Act (CHIPS Act)…so at least when it comes to semiconductors, the answer is clearly yes. We do know the way to San José! 

And now, at this historic inflection point, Costa Rica has an opportunity to solidify its position, already enjoying over 25 years of success across the sector and poised for more. 

In fact, the nation and its leaders seek nothing less than to become the leading destination for semiconductor industry investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s an ambitious, even audacious, goal. And the roadmap being released today will directly assist this effort. 

And other steps will, too, such as Costa Rica’s ambition to solidify links to North America through accession to the USMCA trade agreement. It’s a visionary goal with dramatic implications for supply chain relocation and increased global competitiveness. And a bill just introduced in Congress—the bipartisan Americas Act—would provide the means to do just that. 

Folks, now is the time to consider Costa Rica. As The Economist magazine recently wrote, large semiconductor projects are advancing worldwide, but the window for action is closing rapidly. 

It reminds me of what the North American humorist Mark Twain once said, that even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. Costa Rica is not “just sitting there” but is moving intentionally along the track to sustainable socioeconomic development through advanced manufacturing investment and trade. 

So the real question that must asked, ladies and gentlemen, is, do you know the way to San José? Because if you don’t, you really should. 

Thank you again for the opportunity to join you today, with congratulations and much success on this very important initiative.