Trade Dispute Between Panama and Costa Rica

Following Panama's blockade of the entry of animal products from Costa Rica, arguing that the permits have expired, Costa Rican authorities decided to notify the World Trade Organization of the dispute.

Friday, August 7, 2020

On July 10, Panama informed the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) of Costa Rica's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of the decision not to extend export permits to a list of previously authorized Costa Rican establishments that have been exporting to Panama for many years.

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From the MAG statement:

August 6th, 2020. The decision of the Panamanian authorities to block the entry of animal products from Costa Rica has been in effect for more than three weeks and constitutes a serious commercial problem between both countries, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Renato Alvarado Rivera and the Minister of Foreign Trade, Dyala Jiménez Figueres.

The minister explained that intense efforts have been made between the competent authorities of both countries, both at a technical and political level, and have been coordinated with our export sector.

"Panama has been required to comply with the provisions of Article 13 of the Central American Regulation on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Procedures which establishes the obligation to allow trade when the renewal of the establishment's authorization has been required 90 days before its expiration and the situation has already been notified to the Committee on Agriculture of the World Trade Organization. Approaches to Panamanian authorities continue, as we must make every effort to re-establish trade with our important neighbor and trading partner," added Minister Jiménez.

On the other hand, Minister Alvarado Rivera highlighted that the argument of the closure due to the expiration of permits is not valid, which does not represent any technical basis, since Costa Rica has not changed its sanitary conditions nor has it presented any safety deviations in its products. "Since the measure became known, coordination with SENASA began to request the Panamanian authorities to extend the period of authorization, in accordance with Central American regulations. SENASA has made timely applications to Panamanian authorities to renew the approval of Costa Rican establishments and has offered solutions and even provide cooperation and technical support to Panamanian establishments so they can achieve health standards equivalent to those of Costa Rica," said Minister Alvarado Rivera, who added that Costa Rica maintains a high level of animal health and safety that guarantees the health of domestic consumers and the demanding markets to which it exports.

Additionally, Minister Alvarado indicated that this new problem adds to the blockade already experienced with other agricultural products, such as tomatoes and bananas, which have been unable to export to the Panamanian market for months.

On July 10, Panama informed the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) of the MAG about the decision not to extend the authorization to export to a list of Costa Rican establishments previously authorized and which have been exporting to Panama for many years.

The new Panamanian measures currently affect 19 livestock establishments, according to data from SENASA, including establishments producing dairy and dairy sub-products, fish feed, beef, pork, processed poultry meat, and sausages.

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