Costa Rica: Legales: Trump y las zonas francas

Last Updated: 1 March 2017
Article by Ronald Lachner

Las promesas del presidente electo de EE. UU. serían de difícil implementación.

La elección de Donald Trump como presidente de Estados Unidos sin duda plantea algunas interrogantes para la inversión extranjera directa en Costa Rica, siendo uno de esos sectores el de zonas francas.

En la campaña electoral, el ahora presidente electo, esbozó algunas propuestas que preocupan, como su interés de recuperar empleos para Estados Unidos, reducir la carga tributaria para las empresas a un 15%, gravar las importaciones de productos provenientes de ciertos países, imponer un gravamen a las empresas estadounidenses que tuvieran plantas fuera de los EE. UU. e incluso renegociar o terminar tratados de libre comercio actualmente vigentes.

Las promesas de Trump serían de difícil implementación, tanto desde el punto de vista legal y político, como desde un punto de vista práctico y económico.

Según se ha mencionado por expertos en Estados Unidos, gravar las importaciones provenientes de determinados países –en sana teoría– requiere la aprobación del Congreso. Por otro lado, esos impuestos dirigidos son una medida discriminatoria que viola los acuerdos de la Organización Mundial de Comercio y tendrían vicios de inconstitucionalidad bajo el propio ordenamiento jurídico estadounidense.

A lo anterior debe sumarse el riesgo de que medidas de este tipo sean sancionadas por la comunidad internacional, afectando la economía estadounidense.

En las normas de comercio internacional, existe el principio de reciprocidad, donde los países que compran bienes y servicios de los Estados Unidos, tendrían el derecho de gravar e imponer el mismo tipo de restricciones a estos, desatándose así una guerra comercial.

En cuanto a los tratados de libre comercio, a pesar de que sí es posible para el presidente de los Estados Unidos salirse unilateralmente de ellos, este tipo de decisiones no tienen precedentes en el país del norte y podrían ser cuestionadas a nivel judicial.

Desde el punto de vista económico y práctico, tampoco tiene mucho sentido. Los tratados de libre comercio se negocian para buscar un beneficio neto a las diferentes partes. Salirse de esos tratados es una decisión que no es ni política, ni comercialmente fácil.

Ahora bien, partiendo de un escenario en el que la administración Trump pudiera superar estos grandes escollos y lograra implementar estas medidas, es importante analizar cuál sería su impacto en la inversión extranjera en Costa Rica.

En este improbable supuesto, el efecto en el país no sería inmediato ni tampoco catastrófico. Costa Rica cuenta con varias ventajas competitivas que hace que seamos atractivos.

Las empresas que se ubican en Costa Rica normalmente han hecho un estudio del país, en la mayoría de los casos esto ha implicado no solamente varias visitas exploratorias sino la revisión de beneficios similares ofrecidos en otros países.

Los beneficios fiscales no están dentro de los rubros más valorados, sino más bien otros en los que Costa Rica tiene ventajas competitivas como lo son su estabilidad política, su tradición pacífica, su ubicación geográfica y horaria estratégica para atender ciertos mercados y sin duda su talento humano.

Estabilidad de régimen de zonas francas: El marco legal del régimen de zonas francas en Costa Rica garantiza a los inversionistas que una vez que se han establecido en el país, en el tanto cumplan con la normativa vigente, gozarán de una serie de incentivos fiscales por determinado número de años, con posibilidades de prórroga por reinversión. La seguridad jurídica que proporciona nuestro sistema es muy robusta en comparación a la de nuestros competidores.

Diversificación del origen de la inversión y del destino de las exportaciones: Si bien un componente importante de la inversión extranjera proviene de los Estados Unidos, el país ha hecho un esfuerzo importante en los últimos años por diversificar el origen de las empresas que vienen al país, por lo que no todas dependen de Estados Unidos. Adicionalmente las empresas operando en el país, aún las norteamericanas, exportan a diversos mercados, lo que las hace menos vulnerables a los cambios en políticas comerciales y fiscales de los Estados Unidos.

Los anteriores factores hacen que en caso de que la administración Trump implemente algunas de las iniciativas que mencionó durante el período de campaña, las mismas no tengan necesariamente un efecto negativo en Costa Rica al menos en el corto plazo. No obstante lo anterior, es importante que Costa Rica como mercado continúe sus esfuerzos por escalar posiciones en el índice de competitividad y que tome acciones concretas para mejorar las áreas débiles que se vienen señalando desde hace varios años por las mismas empresas: costo de la factura eléctrica, costo de combustible, crecimiento insuficiente de profesionales y técnicos con los requerimientos de las industrias ubicadas en el país, infraestructura vial y portuaria rezagada, ausencia de transporte público que permita mejorar el tránsito vehicular, telecomunicaciones y acceso a internet deficientes, entre otros. Estados Unidos podrían entrar a ser un competidor más en materia de atracción de inversión con ventajas e incentivos interesantes, al igual que otros países que actualmente son actores importantes y con los cuales Costa Rica debe mantener su posición de privilegio.

Ahora más que nunca, debemos redoblar esfuerzos para mantener la ventaja competitiva que ha logrado Costa Rica y no dejar que el esfuerzo de más de cuatro décadas en atracción de inversión se pierda, poniéndose en peligro con ello los 80.000 empleos generados por el modelo.

Costa Rica tiene la capacidad de reacción, pero es el momento de actuar decididamente.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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