Costa Rica - Mexico Trade Dispute Escalates

The Mexican government has filed a complaint with the WTO against Costa Rica over the imposition of restrictions on imports of avocados, in place since May 2014.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

ir="ltr">Mexican authorities are tired of waiting and have decided to initiate a process with the World Trade Organization in order to resolve the problem, only days after Costa Rica suggested, as a possible solution to the conflict, the implementation of a laboratory test for imports of the fruit.

In this regard, Oscar Holguin, in charge of Legal Affairs and the Press at the Embassy of Mexico in the country, told Nacion.com that "... 'Mexico has now turned to the WTO because the talks and informal meetings that have been held so far have not produced any concrete results, therefore it was decided not to delay any further the decision to bring this matter before an impartial body.'"

The Costa Rican government must now decide how it will respond to this complaint and which institution will bear the costs of the litigation, estimated, according to the Ministry of Foreign Trade, at $600,000.

See: "Avocado and the High Cost of Protectionism"

From a statement issued by the World Food Organization:

Mexico presents complaint against Costa Rica over imposition of import restrictions for avocados 

On March 8 Mexico notified the WTO Secretariat that it had requested consultations with Costa Rica regarding certain measures imposed by this country, which allegedly restricts or prohibits the importation of fresh avocado from Mexico, and the alleged failure to apply or recognise under domestic law of Costa Rica certain obligations under the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the WTO (SPS Agreement).



More on this topic

Avocado: End of the Dispute Between Costa Rica and Mexico?

February 2019

Authorities from both countries agreed that Costa Rica would accept avocado from Mexico, as long as it has a phytosanitary certificate indicating that the shipment is "symptom-free."

The State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of Costa Rica, managed to agree in December 2018 with the new Mexican authorities, the procedure to end almost four years of trade conflict, which emerged from the barriers imposed on the entry of avocado to the Costa Rican market.

Mexican Avocado Dispute Increases

November 2018

Because of the problem of the barriers that Costa Rica has imposed since 2014 to the entry of avocado from Mexico remains unsolved, the Mexican authorities asked the WTO to refer the case to an arbitration panel.

The blockade of the Mexican avocado does not end. The Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex) reported that Mexico requested the WTO to establish a panel of arbitrators to solve the dispute.

Costa Rica: Cost of Litigation with Mexico Over Avocados

March 2016

Employers indicate that taking the dispute to an arbitration panel will cost many millions of dollars and will result in indemnization payments, as it is clear that trade agreements and phytosanitary standards were breached.

The announcement by the Mexican authorities to take Costa Rica to a World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitration panel because of the dispute over avocados, has caused concern among employers who are members of the Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Goods (Ceipp).

Avocados: Mexico and Costa Rica will Litigate in WTO

March 2016

The irreconcilable positions of both countries over phytosanitary measures for the Mexican product form the backdrop to a possible arbitration panel with the world trade body.

Since Costa Rica stopped issuing permits for the entry of Hass avocados from Mexico, for phytosanitary protectionism reasons, (the country argues they are protecting themselves from the disease known as sunspot), neither country has managed to convince the other through technical and political methods to reopen the market.

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