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Costa Rica opposes lifting restrictions on Mexican Hass avocado

Staff Writer |
The National Chamber of Agriculture and Agroindustry (CNAA) opposed the request made by six other trade institutions to lift import restrictions on the Mexican Hass avocado.

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The conditions were applied during the administration of former President Luis Guillermo Solis to prevent the spread of a disease known as sunspot. The World Trade Organization supported those measures.

The president of the Chamber of Agriculture, Juan Rafael Lizano, summarized the process that must be carried out for the importation, adding that Mexico had the same sanitary restrictions on other Costa Rican products.

The consequences of the propagation of the sunspot in the country would provoke a rejection from other countries on Costa Rican exports; a situation that the Chamber of Agriculture tries to avoid through this request to the Government.

Lizano also expressed concern about the price of the national Hass avocado, which is sold to the consumer up to five times more expensive than what is paid to Costa Rican producers.

Mexico submitted its second request for a panel to rule on Costa Rica's import restrictions on fresh avocados from Mexico, following Costa Rica's decision to block Mexico's first request at the DSB meeting on 4 December.

Mexico is challenging measures which ban or severely limit the importation of fresh avocados from Mexico, including certain procedures related to the control, inspection and approval of the avocado imports as well as Costa Rica's alleged failure to adapt its regulations to take account of the low prevalence of pests or disease in certain regions and make such regionalization operative.

Mexico noted that Costa Rica is a trading partner distinguished by its commitment to free trade and that it had been exporting fresh avocados to Costa Rica for more than 20 years without any problem. Mexico said it has no choice but to request the panel a second time to review its claims.

Costa Rica said it regretted Mexico's decision to pursue a panel and said it saw no reason for it, particularly in light of a bilateral agreement recently signed by Mexico and Costa Rica establishing a joint technical work programme aimed at resolving the dispute. Costa Rica said its measures were fully in line with WTO requirements and backed by WTO-consistent risk assessments.

The DSB agreed to the establishment of a panel. China, India, the United States, Panama, Honduras, Canada, Russia and the European Union reserved their third-party rights to participate in the proceedings.

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