Central American Customs Offices Hinder Trade

From the border with Mexico up to Darien in Panama, customs offices are hindering trade and conspiring against the region's development.

Friday, October 4, 2013

According to the Corporation of Guatemalan Customs Agents (CAAG), delays suffered by transport carriers alone make goods 5% more expensive for Central American consumers. But added to this is 30% for sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and non-tariff measures that are applied in each country.

The conclusion: "... importing and exporting goods from Panama to Guatemala and vice versa, is very expensive," says Lucia Navas in her article in Laprensa.com.ni. "... Central American private sector federations through the Consultative Committee for Economic Integration (CCIE) have appealed to the Central American Economic Integration Secretariat (SIEC) to act against obstacles to intra-Community trade."

Traders, truckers, farmers and exporters have to deal with excessive charges, fines, detention of goods and vehicles, among other things. In the case of Panama, the FTA prohibits carriers from loading or unloading freely, and in Bocas del Toro foreign carriers are charged $15 to pass through.

More on this topic

Which Countries are Opposed to the Customs Union?

September 2014

It is time for transparent information to be given on which Central American governments continue to obstruct the essential unification of border formalities.


The Council of Ministers for Economic Integration (Comieco) which met in Managua on September 4 and 5 ended, as always happens in these meetings with public officials, with a statement of good intentions including promises to "work on the standardization of procedures at border posts and a regional strategy for trade facilitation," objectives which have been stated often and which up to now are far from being realised.

Nicaraguan Customs Offices Obstructs Trade

October 2013

Entrepreneurs and drivers and transporters indicate that there are a lot of inconveniences in the customs office at Port Corinto.

Truckers for example, complain of constant fines, confiscation of vans and goods without any legal reason. They are also required to pay for stays in the harbor of Punta Icaco because front loading machines are only available at night.

Regional Bureaucracy Hinders Development

July 2013

The heavy bureaucracy present in Central American governments is obstructing the transport of goods, adding to regional trade costs.

In Guatemala, for example, the inefficiency in resolving issues and easily implementing procedures is self evident, as currently there are open files against 36,000 carriers, "something that no one can update, because of how cumbersome it would be to update this documentation , but the worst thing is that many of these records were wrongly documented because they correspond to breaches by vehicles which later went out of circulation ... " noted an editorial published by Prensalibre.com.

Customs Still a Problem

February 2012

Instead of being reduced, bureaucracy at the Central American borders is becoming increasingly burdensome, complicating and making intra regional trade more expensive.

Constant delays which increase transportation costs, lack of progress in the streamlining of customs procedures and a perceived stagnation of the customs and economic integration project are the most pressing problems observed by business associations in Central America.

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