The largest exporting manufacturers in Costa Rica include: Colombia’s Pintuco, which owns the Kativo brand and manufacturers the Protecto, Glidden and Vastalux brands; Grupo Sur, which owns the Sur and Koral Brands; Comex and Lanco. Among non-exporting paint companies are: Sherwin-Williams, which markets its Excello acrylic latex line; Corporación BBG, which markets the BBG and Ultra Plus lines; and Fibrocentro, which markets the Pinturama brand.
Kativo operates three production facilities in the region, in Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, and operates a technical center in Costa Rica serving its 68 stores in Central America. Kativo was purchased by Pintuco in August 2012. Lanco produces its Lanco brand at one production plant in the country at Alajuela. Mexico’s Comex distributes in Costa Rica and the rest of the region, with a total of some 90 points of sale. And in the pipe coatings segment, Lord Corp. recently forged a joint venture in Costa Rica with Terramix.
Costa Rica’s five million inhabitants enjoy a gross domestic product of approximately $45 billion, with a relatively high associated per capita income of $11,000. This compares with approximately $8,000 for the region and $13,000 for Panama, according to one think tank. As such, the availability of disposable income for home paints is relatively strong.
Where domestic consumption levels finally fail, exports pick up. Among neighboring country importers of Costa Rican paint, Panama leads, taking one-third of the production, followed by Nicaragua, which takes approximately 20 percent of Costa Rican production. In 2012, market analyst IRL identified Honduras as an export destination for substandard paints from unidentified sources.
Costa Rica’s economy is expected to undergo a boost from the Presidential election on January 2, in which academic Luis Guillermo Solis, gained a slight lead over ruling party candidate Johnny Araya; a runoff vote is still expected. Despite a pro-growth platform, the outgoing government has suffered from corruption scandals.
Costa Rica has long been known as the business capital of Central America, and has played a pivotal role in regional development, as well. In June of last year, Costa Rica helped forge the Central America-Mexico Free Trade Agreement, and in 2006 it helped create the Dominican Republic-Central America–United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Central America is comprised of seven countries: Belize; Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Nicaragua and Panama.
Last year when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Costa Rica, he vowed to shift U.S. focus on the region to economic development. U.S. trade with Central America was worth $61 billion in 2012.