QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica and Nicaragua are locked into a diary war, with the first punch thrown by Costa Rica when it closed imports products from two of the four dairy industrial plants by Lala, the Mexican company located in Nicaragua.
The ban on Lala dairy products went into effect last month when inspections by the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal (Senasa) de Costa Rica found “technical issues: one plant already exporting to Costa Rica had its permits expired, the other was getting ready for its first export.
On June 6, Nicaragua retaliated by closing its borders to the import of Dos Pinos products.
Alexis Sandí, acting director of Senasa, explained that Nicaragua inspections were conducted from May 9 to 13.
According Sandí, Senasa officials went to Nicaragua to inspect the plants before granting the renewal and first time permits, but found several problems, which were reported the Institute for Health and Agriculture (IPSA) of Nicaragua.
A week later, says Sandí, Costa Rica officials concluded that it was not advisable to open the market to exports from the two plants.
In Costa Rica, Nicaragua health authorities had conducted in November 2015 an inspection of the Dos Pinos plant, finding a number of irregularities. Sandís says the Costa Rican cooperative corrected the problems and continued exporting.
However, on June 6, after Costa Rica reported its findings with the Lala plants, Nicaragua’s IPSA decided to impose (on the same day) a ban on Dos Pinos products, explains Sandí.
Both Sandí and Costa Rica’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Luis Felipe Arauz, call the Nicaragua decision retaliatory.
For this reason, Arauz says he has convened a meeting of high-ranking officials of both countries, with a possible meeting occurring in the first week in July.
From the Costa Rica side, the ban has resulted in some 270 tons of dairy products not making it into Nicaragua. Products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream are included in the ban.
Nicaragua is the third largest market in Central America for Costa Rica products. Last year Costa Rica exported to Nicaragua some 6,600 tons of dairy products, according to data supplied by the Chamber of Milk Producers.