Almost 100 per cent of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources. Its army was abolished long ago. It is the oldest democracy in Central America. If the international community was a classroom, Costa Rica would not fail to be the star pupil. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier therefore offered his counterpart Manuel González an appropriately warm welcome to the Federal Foreign Office today.
Environmental protection: a labour of love for life
“Pura Vida!” – pure life. This is the literal translation of this Central American country’s slogan. It is also used as a catchphrase meaning “hello”, “sure” or “you’re welcome”. And as the people of this country cherish life so greatly, Costa Ricans are keen to protect its foundations. Almost 30 per cent of the country’s territory has been designated as a protected area. Even now, 97 per cent of the electricity generated in Costa Rica comes from renewable sources, making it a world leader in this area. President Solis wants to achieve still more, however, and is seeking to make his the first country in the world to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2021.
Ecotourism as an economic factor
Beyond energy matters, environmental protection is also an important issue in the country of the “Ticos”, as Costa Ricans like to call themselves. After all, the nation is one of the twenty countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world – and on a territory that is the size of Lower Saxony! Unsurprisingly, ecotourism has become a major sector of the economy. Many Germans also set out on the long journey to Costa Rica to see howler monkeys and the famous red-eyed tree frog in the wild.
An attractive investment location
Alongside environmental matters, the Foreign Ministers’ agenda also included regional policy issues such as the Colombian peace process and the situation in Haiti. Steinmeier and González found that important progress was being made in the area of business relations. Costa Rica’s accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is currently being negotiated. Moreover, the double taxation agreement between Germany and Costa Rica is set to enter into force in 2017. Increasing numbers of German companies are being attracted to the country thanks to stable conditions especially in the capital San José, where ever-more high-tech companies are setting up shop.
Manuel González will be embarking on his long journey home after his talks with Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Education Minister Johanna Wanka and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. He is a most welcome guest here in Berlin.