Saturday 4 February 2023

Costa Rica’s productive sector asks to declare a State of Emergency Due to a serious situation in Customs

Despite the contingency plans and the collaboration of the General Directorate of Customs, the delays persist

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4 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica’s productive sector called on the Ministerio de Hacienda (Ministry of Finance) to adopt extraordinary measures to speed up the clearance of imports, which are experiencing significant delays due to the “hacking” of the TICA customs system.

The Costa Rican Chamber of Industries (CICR), the National Chamber of Freight Carriers (CANATRAC), the Costa Rican Chamber of Foreign Trade (CRECEX), the Chamber of Fiscal and General Deposit Warehouses (CAMALFI), the Costa Rican Chamber of Shipowners (NAVE ), the Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica (CADEXCO) and the Association of Customs Agents (AAACR), expressed their concern over the costs and lack of raw materials and supplies associated with the delays, as the Customs service processes clearances manually.

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For Sergio Capón, first vice president of the ICRC, “we are concerned about the delay in reestablishing the TICA system due to the economic consequences that it is causing to the productive sector. As the days go by, the industry reports a lack of inventory of raw materials and supplies, paralyzing production lines and putting at risk the continuity of the operation of companies, exports and the availability of products in the market for consumers.

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Otto Ortiz,, CANATRAC’s representative, expressed that “it is of the utmost importance that a plan be put in place that comes to support more forcefully by the Treasury the efforts made up to now by the customs department, but it is evident that the amount of containers waiting to be processed for their respective internment and clearance requires a more robust and agile plan, since if the replacement of equipment is not achieved with an adequate rotation, releasing the containers in the fiscal warehouses or recipients, it will make it impossible to return to the ports for more cargo.”

Also, the non-unloading of import containers will affect exports, since the low inventory of containers of the different shipping lines that the country has is public knowledge.

For the different sectors, if the legalization of imports is not sped up with expedited unloading processes, the sector could, in a few days, face a paralysis of international trade, especially considering the volumes of containers that are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, estimated in 10,000 TEUs (an acronym used in logistics, which means ‘Twenty Equipment Unit’ or in other terms a ’20-foot container’).

According to Alfredo Salas, executive director of NAVE, “the impact on the shipping sector is due to the lack of empty equipment; As there is a low rotation of this equipment, inventories have been reduced, putting exports at risk. In addition, some shipping lines are considering their volumes and itineraries if this situation is not restored as soon as possible.”

Along the same lines, José Antonio Salas, president of CRECEX, pointed out that “since day one of the event, the import sector has been one of the main affected. Today, two weeks later, the contingency plans have gradually seen the first positive results, but they are still insufficient. On average, it is taking between 3 and 4 days to give green releases and the customs personnel and hours become insufficient.”

The Business Chambers urged the Government to declare a State of National Emergency in Costa Rica, due to the very serious situation affecting the computer systems in the Ministry of Finance, based on article 180 of the Political Constitution and the Law No. 8488 “National Law on Emergencies and Risk Prevention”.

The Moín Container Terminal (MCT), operated by APM Terminals,
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This norm recognizes anthropic facts -produced or modified by human activity-; being the occurrence of a dangerous phenomenon of technological origin or caused by man, capable of producing adverse effects on people, goods, public services and the environment. In this order of ideas, this declaration would be aimed at safeguarding the primary legal rights and thus focus efforts to speed up customs transit and clearance of goods.

For the productive sector, despite contingency plans and the collaboration of the General Directorate of Customs to cope with this unexpected situation, companies continue to experience significant delays in imports, with port yards, customs warehouses and warehouses beginning to become saturated. temporary parking lots, putting exports at risk due to the lack of empty equipment.

Therefore, they called on the authorities to deal with the situation with the urgency that it deserves and, in addition, to provide resources to said Directorate so that they adopt extraordinary measures since the restoration of the TICA computer system is not in sight. the short term.

According to the business representatives, “we cannot wait until the new authorities of the Ministry of Finance take office (on May 9), while the containers accumulate in the ports, in the transitory parking lots and the fiscal warehouses, and the actors of the logistics chain and industries suffer the consequences of delays.”

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The productive sector added that it makes itself available to the authorities of the Ministry of Finance so that, as soon as possible, a work table with all the actors involved is convened to look for new alternatives that in the short term will provide agility to international trade and legal certainty to the users.

Article translated and adapted from Revista Summa. Read it in Spanish here.

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