Costa Rican strike eases, but pineapple exports remain limited

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Costa Rican strike eases, but pineapple exports remain limited

Costa Rica's pineapple industry has managed to carry out some exports over recent days, as a widespread strike that has severely affected the country approaches the three-week mark.

The standstill by public workers began on Sept. 10 in response to the government’s proposed tax reforms which would mean an increase in levies to face the bulky fiscal deficit.

Abel Chaves, president of CANAPEP, the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters, told Fresh Fruit Portal the mobilizations had impacted exports.

In the first week the industry incurred losses of around US$3 million, with none of the 2,000 containers exporters would normally ship on a weekly basis around this time of year able to leave.

"The strike has begun to diminish, we have maintained the operation of the port, which is slow, but we have maintained it," said Chaves.

He added that although they are not yet operating at 100%, "there has already been product being shipped, mainly since Saturday last week."

Last weekend authorities announced they would begin taking over operations of the ports the private sector did not have to deal with the additional costs.

At the beginning of the strike, CANAPEP, along with shipping association NAVE and banana association CADEXCO, decided to finance the operation of a tugboat to move the cargo and avoid a total paralysis. But as time went on the operation became economically unsustainable.

"At the beginning, we thought that the indefinite strike was a message, but as the days went by, that became a reality," Chaves said.

He added that the difficulty lies not only in the standstill at the ports and in public services but also because of the roadblocks and fuel shortages that prevent trucks from reaching the fields.

"The shipping companies' facilities were practically full of fruit containers ... there were containers on roads that did not reach the port ... packing plants with fruit waiting to be packed and transported."

The strike is ongoing for now, but Chaves said that the Costa Rican government was hoping it could find a solution by October.

Chaves said Costa Rica provides around 84% of the pineapples in the U.S. market, to which a little over half of national production is shipped. The rest is sent to Europe, South Korea, Japan and China.




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