Mexico takes Costa Rica to WTO over avocado suspension

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Mexico takes Costa Rica to WTO over avocado suspension

Mexico and Guatemala have taken Costa Rica to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over its stance on avocado imports, according to website avocado_69588181

Costa Rica's phytosanitary service stopped issuing import permits for Hass avocados to Mexico and eight other markets on May 5, citing concerns over the possible risk of sunblotch disease entering the country.

Technical meetings have been held over recent weeks between authorities from Mexico and Costa Rica, but now a case has been opened with the WTO under the classification of 'commercial concern', according to the story.

The WTO committee is due to discuss the topic this week at its ordinary sessions. A 60-day consultancy period has also been opened, in which the organization's 161 members can pose questions and highlight concerns to Costa Rica.

After answers have been delivered, another 60-day consultancy period will begin that will involve direct talks between the parties. If there is still no agreement following that, the issue will be taken up by a panel of arbitrators.

A spokesperson for the Mexican Embassy in Costa Rica, Óscar Holguín, expressed regret the issue could not be resolved at technical meetings, and warned the blocking of import permits was economically affecting Mexican shippers, reported.

The story said a delegation from Costa Rica's State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) recently travelled to the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to give reasons for the temporary measure.

The delegation also requested permission to demand Mexico designate areas that are sunblotch-free, which it said would then be allowed to ship to Costa Rica.

Mexico reportedly supplies about 12,000 metric tons (MT) of the 15,000MT of avocados consumed in Costa Rica annually.

However, other countries have been stepping in to fill the supply gaps, with The Chamber of Importers of Perishable Products president Randall Benavides saying that since the import suspension, Peru had shipped 12 containers with 20MT of avocado each.

But despite this, Benavides said domestic avocado prices had shot up by more than 40% - with wholesale prices moving from CRC1,550 (US$2.90) per kilogram on May 1 to CRC2,300 (US$4.30) on July 10.

Costa Rican importers are reportedly locking in contracts with Chile and Colombia, as the Peruvian season nears completion.


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