Costa Rica secured the first spot as the world’s best performing location relative to its size, when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), as disclosed by the 2021 Greenfield Performance Index, with 84 countries evaluated.

The country climbed to the top of this year’s annual ranking with a score of 11.4. This score places it significantly ahead of the runners-up, Lithuania with 8.3, and the UAE with 7.1.

According to data collected by fDi Markets, Costa Rica attracted 96 projects in 2020.

“While this represents a drop of 7.7% from 2019, it remains the country’s second-best year since records began in 2003 — a performance that stands out even more, considering the challenging investment environment of last year, when greenfield FDI projects fell by about a third globally. The country has come a long way since being an exporter of agriculture commodities decades ago; in 2020, Medical Devices, software and IT and business service sectors accounting for 60% of its inward FDI projects […]”, indicates the article.

Of the 84 countries analyzed by fDi, 64 had an index score greater than 1.0, while 20 had a score of 1.0 or lower. A score of 1.0 indicates that a country’s share of global inward greenfield FDI in 2020 matches its relative share of global gross domestic product (GDP), while a higher score indicates a larger share, and a score of less than 1 indicates a smaller share. Hence, Costa Rica is attracting 11 times the amount of greenfield FDI that might be expected given the size of its economy.

The Top Ten

Costa Rica is way ahead of other countries in the 2021 Greenfield Performance Index.

Country Score
Costa Rica 11.39
Lithuania 8.25
UAE 7.14
Singapore 6.20
Estonia 6.12
Serbia 4.82
Poland 4.66
Latvia 4.58
Hungary 4.06
Zambia 3.94


Costa Rica keeps on heavily attracting FDI, in particular from the Life Science industry. Over the last year, companies such as Bayer and Nevro have decided to join Coyol Free Zone, as part of the greenfield investments highlighted.

Projects in Coyol Free Zone surpass the US$400 million in combined FDI and local investments, leveraging the growth of Costa Rica in the international markets.

The Greenfield Performance Index uses a methodology devised by Unctad for overall FDI, and applies it to only greenfield FDI, excluding mergers and acquisitions, intra-company loans, and other forms of cross-border investment.

Source: 2021 Greenfield Performance Index, fDi Intelligence