The slowdown of China's economic powerhouse has caused some wailing and gnashing of teeth in Latin America. The double-digit growth rates of the Asian giant's voracious economy swallowed up billions of dollars of food grains and metals in recent years.
Not any longer, not right now anyhow. As Vale's director of investor relations, Roberto Castello Branco, recently said: "The golden years are gone for China." Mark these words. After all, senior executives of Vale, the world's leading producer of iron ore, know a thing or two about commodity markets.
Latin America's economies are doing much better than those of crisis-hit Europe, but they no longer ride the crest of a wave in commodities markets boosted by the demand from China.
Costa Rica never rode that wave. The Central American nation of a population of only some 4.6 million has never been a major exporter of commodities. But it has developed a relationship with China that could provide a model for its much larger neighbors in the hemisphere.