Riding Waves of Change: The Case of Costa Rica’s Global Value Chain–Driven Economic Transformation


There is a vibrant policy discussion about the way in which countries might harness the evolving trends in global production to drive economic development. Most of Latin America has remained largely disconnected from the global value chains (GVCs) that have developed. In contrast, Costa Rica has ridden three waves of policy reforms, which have enabled significant GVC-driven growth over the past twenty-five years. This article strives to use the case of Costa Rica to illustrate the type of policy-making approach that may be useful to small economies throughout the region.

About the Authors

Bullon David Bullón is coordinator of global value chains (GVCs) and innovation at the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade, where he leads a team-working drive upgrading toward innovation-based activities in GVCs. His expertise is in economic development and private sector development, with experience in the United States, Mexico, Peru, China, India, South Sudan, and Costa Rica. Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Trade, he held leadership positions in research and development and operations management in the private sector (Black & Decker), development consulting (Access Development Services), applied field research (Innovations for Poverty Action), and strategic planning in the public sector (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, South Sudan).

Bullón´s research trajectory has been diverse, including basic science research on nanotechnology at Harvard University’s Department of Physics, economic research on financial constraints to integration in GVCs with Innovations for Poverty Action, policy research on backward linkages from multinational enterprises to small and medium-sized enterprises at Harvard University, and research to map Costa Rica’s participation in GVCs with the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade.
Bullón is a member of the World Economic Forum´s Global Shaper Community and is involved in broadening educational opportunities in Costa Rica through Asobitico, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that brings the International Baccalaureate to public high schools, and TicoFuturo, an NGO that funds graduate studies to the top universities abroad. He holds a master in public administration in international development from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Monge Francisco Monge currently works as Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica. At the Ministry, he has also worked as Coordinator of North America Affairs, Coordinator of WTO Affairs, and Head of the Ministry’s Trade Analysis Unit, and he has led several research initiatives on GVCs. Monge led the market access negotiations for the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union, the Free Trade Agreement between Costa Rica and China, and the Free Trade Agreement between Costa Rica and Singapore. Since 2009, he has served as professor of international trade at the School of Public Administration of the Universidad de Costa Rica. Monge earned both his PhD in development economics and his master’s degree in economics from Ohio State University. He was awarded the 2007 Best Dissertation Award and the 2006 Bernie Erven Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics of Ohio State University. Monge has published on topics such as global value chains, trade liberalization, development banking, and trade policy.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors.

Please like & share:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>