Mexico Files WTO Complaint Against Costa Rica Over Avocado Imports Ban

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Q COSTA RICA – On Wednesday Mexico launched a trade complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Costa Rica’s restrictions on imports of fresh avocados from Mexico, the WTO said in a statement.

The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without further with litigation.

Mexico’s Ministry of the Economy confirmed the WTO complaint filing on its website, saying, “The Government of Mexico reiterates its commitment to defend the domestic industry against measures that are not subject to the rights and obligations agreed under the WTO.”

In Costa Rica, the Minister of Foreign Trade (Comex), Alexander Mora, said the country will maintain the restriction on avocados from Mexico and has asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) to assume the cost of the WTO dispute.

For his part, the Minister of the Agriculture, Luis Felipe Arauz, said the MAG will not reverse the protection measures it has in place.

Alexander Mora, Comex head of state, confirmed that a request was made to president Luis Guillermo Solís for the Phytosanitary Service, attached to the MAG, to finance the process, since it is the entity responsible for generating the trade conflict with Mexico.

The Comex estimates the commercial dispute could end up costing Costa Rica at least US$600,00 dollars.

Back in May 2015, Costa Rica banned the import of avocado from Mexico, claiming that their production is affected by the Sun Blotch virus, which represents a danger to their national crops.

Mexico has considered the ban contravened the treaties established between both countries and that violated international laws.

Up to the ban, Costa Rica imported some 70,000 tons annually of the Mexican fruit, main importers being Fruta Internacional, Frutas del Mundo, Pura Fruta and Walmart México and Central America.

Under WTO rules, Costa Rica has 60 days to settle the dispute. After that period Mexico could ask the WTO to adjudicate.

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