Concern about Possible Trade Retaliation

Following Costa Rica's decision to impose requirements on the entry of avocados grown in Honduras, Costa Rican businessmen believe that these unilateral measures could generate trade retaliation for the country.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Arguing that molecular biology tests detected the presence of the Avocado Sunblotch viroid in shipments from Honduras, the Costa Rican State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) decided to start taking samples to analyze Honduran avocados.

On May 25, Costa Rican authorities explained that the procedure now consists of retaining avocados grown in Honduran territory, then some tests will be performed on the shipments and then the product will be released once a negative result for Avocado Sunblotch viroid (ASBVd) is obtained.

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As soon as these measures were known, representatives of the Costa Rican productive sector stated that there is uncertainty among businessmen and fear for possible commercial retaliation that may be applied by the Government of Honduras.

Manrique Loaiciga, spokesman for the Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Products (Ceipp), told that "... we have not yet had access to the results of the analysis made by the authorities. This to determine if, indeed, this is a real situation or if it is a case similar to that of Mexico in 2015."

The lack of information offered by the SFE generates uncertainty, especially, when the national avocado season is just a couple of weeks away from starting, highlighted the Chamber representative.

Loaiciga added that "... now, a very important thing to consider is the repercussions. Because of the very urgent measure (...) it has to follow a regulation, or is it going to make a mess again, Mexico style? If the measure is badly taken, we are going to see in a few days that Honduras will apply reciprocity'."

Research by CentralAmericaData specifies that Honduran avocado exports have been on the rise in recent years, as in 2016 they amounted to just $53 thousand, in 2017 they rose to $254 thousand, in 2018 they climbed to $753 thousand, in 2019 they rose to $3 million and in 2020 the exported amount totaled $4.4 million.

Reviewing the reported sales data in 2020, official figures detail that 98% of the total exported from Honduras was destined for Costa Rica.

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