Central America: Threats to the Supply Chain

Since El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama have set a 72-hour time limit for freight drivers operating in the region, hundreds of units have decided to halt their operations as a measure of pressure.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Due to the health crisis resulting from the covid-19 outbreak, Salvadoran, Costa Rican and Panamanian authorities decided that the drivers of the cargo transport units entering the country will have only 72 hours to make the formalities at the borders, and to unload and reload the goods from the vehicles.

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According to businessmen, at least 10 days are needed to carry out the whole process. As a response to this restriction, it is reported that hundreds of units are stranded in Costa Rican and Panamanian territory, as a measure to pressure governments to make the measures more flexible.

Hector Fajardo, general director of the Central American Transporters' Chamber (Catransca) and a director of the Central American Transport Federation (Fecatrans), told Prensalibre.com that "... The protests of the transporters will trigger a shortage at a regional level, because there will be no mobility in the logistic part of the transport and it will impact the supply'. In addition, Costa Rica established a $500 fine for anyone who does not comply with the measure, and they are asking that the truck be nationalized, which implies high costs."

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A statement from Fecatrans details that most countries and business chambers are not in agreement with the measure, since far from helping to reactivate the economy, it deepens the paralysis and threatens to cause shortages.

Adan Aquino, president of the company Transportes Los Andes, explained that "... The transporters who go into Costa Rican territory to make deliveries are returning empty, because it is definitely impossible to unload, load, process exports and leave their territory in just 72 hours."

Raul Alfaro, president of the Salvadoran Association of International Cargo Carriers (ASTIC), said that "... before Costa Rica allowed foreign vehicles to stay up to 30 days in its territory, but after the restriction, it only allows 72 hours. If this period is exceeded, a fine of $500 must be paid and the vehicle must be brought into the country. What does an immigration measure have to do with a purely customs one? Some trucks have to wait up to eight days in Costa Rica to be unloaded."

Fecatrans' request is that the administrative decision be repealed immediately and that a reasonable period of time be granted.

See article from Prensalibre.com "Coronavirus: Regional carriers warn of possible shortage due to restrictions in Costa Rica" and from Laprensagrafica.com "More time is requested from Governments to move cargo" (both in Spanish).

More on this topic

Cargo Transport: El Salvador Makes Measures More Flexible

July 2020

Local authorities decided to extend from 3 to 10 days the maximum period that drivers of international cargo transport are allowed to stay in Salvadoran territory to unload or load merchandise.

Due to the spread of covid-19 Costa Rica was the first country to impose restrictions on cargo transport units from other countries in the region. Faced with this decision taken unilaterally, the governments applied reciprocal measures.

Regional Trade: Panama Applies Reciprocal Measures

May 2020

After Costa Rica imposed several restrictions on the movement of cargo entering its territory, the Panamanian government limited the permit for Costa Rican carriers to remain in the country to 72 hours.

The transit of goods in the region is becoming more complicated every day, since it is argued that the propagation of the covid-19 is being mitigated.

Cargo Transport: Honduras Replies to Costa Rica

May 2020

After the Costa Rican government decided to impose several restrictions on heavy transport units entering its territory, the Honduran government decided to grant Costa Rican pilots only 72 hours in the country.

The difficulties affecting intraregional land trade are increasing, since arguing that it is trying to mitigate the spread of covid-19, the Costa Rican presidency decided that as of May 18 only transporters who make direct transit from border to border would enter Costa Rican territory, whose units must be subject to police surveillance.

Freight Restrictions: Changing Deadlines

May 2020

Given the conflict resulting from the restrictions on the time that cargo transport units can remain in the countries of the region due to the health crisis, the deadlines for carrying out the procedures were modified.

In early May, it was reported that following the outbreak of covid-19, Salvadoran, Costa Rican and Panamanian authorities had decided that pilots of cargo transport units entering the country would have only 72 hours to carry out border formalities and to unload and reload goods from vehicles.