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Avocado lawsuit will cost Costa Rica $500,000

Staff Writer |
The Minister of Foreign Trade (Comex), Dyala Jimenez Figueres, confirmed that the famous avocado lawsuit, which began in 2015 and is now in the World Trade Organization (WTO), would cost the country ¢ 300 million colones.

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Jimenez Figueres preferred not to comment on whether his predecessors were responsible for reaching this point.

"I can talk about procedural issues but can't discuss in depth issues as the case is before a panel. However, I can say that we have been working hand in hand with the State Phytosanitary Service," she said.

She also stated that she believes in the WTO dispute resolution system and that she would respect their decision.

"We are going to protect the interests of the Costa Rican State. The US $ 500 thousand (i.e. ¢ 300 million), includes payments to experts, lawyers, and counseling centers. It's a cost that we wish we didn't have to pay. One tries to solve one's differences with other people without getting into a lawsuit, as that's never a pleasant experience," she said.

In this regard, she said, they have tried to solve the issue with Mexico bilaterally because any country should try to avoid litigation.

Regarding what would happen if the WTO condemns Costa Rica, Jimenez said the WTO would not impose any economic penalties, as they could only recommend adopting certain measures or modifying the fruit's entry requirements. The panel can last one to two years.

Victor Sanchez, the head of the Foreign Ministry at the Mexican Embassy in the country, said that they were looking for the best possible way to address the issue.

"We are in talks with Costa Rica, however, the process at the WTO continues; we'll have to wait to see how it develops," he said.

Asked why they weren't using the new import possibilities provided by the Phytosanitary Service, Sanchez said: "We are aware of the measures that Costa Rica implemented, but we are in favor of returning to how imports were carried out before 2015."

In addition, he confirmed that Mexico is not making exports at this time and that it wouldn't do so until the WTO resolves the issue.

In May 2015, the SFE ordered the closing of borders for avocado imports from eight countries, including Mexico.

Although Costa Rica has proposed several ways for the fruit to enter, the authorities of that country have not been satisfied with them and now they seem to have the intention of reaching a final decision.

The situation has led to an increase in avocado smuggling and an increase in consumer prices.

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