QCOSTARICA – Sales of used cars could be affected, if a proposed decree that restricts the import of vehicles over six years old, to reduce the impact on the environment, is approved.
However, the Cámara Costarricense Automotriz (Costa Rican Automotive Chamber) takes the position that the age of the imported vehicle should not matter as long as they comply with the environment regulations established by the Riteve, the vehicular inspection service. Representatives of the Camara are expected to meet with the Minister of the Environment, Edgar Guttierez.
Another objective of the decree is close the loophole in the auto import industry, a loophole that allows the importation of vehicles totalled or in poor condition in countries like the United States, into Costa Rica and put into circulation.
Earlier this month the Asociación de Importadores de Vehículos y Maquinaria (Aivema) – asosciation of importers of vehicles and machinery – denounced that in the past year more than 2,000 vehicles “totalled” in their country of origin, mainly the U.S., entered the country and the Dirección General de Aduanas (Customs) is failing in its controls.
Rafael Bonilla, director of Aduanas, told La Nacion that the task of monitoring the quality of products imported is not their task, because Customs officials are not experts in things like food, agriculture and cars. Bonilla suggests that the Road Safety Council (Cosevi) of the Minsiterio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) should be responsible.
The government has not released the details of the decree.
Currently there are some 1,000 importers of used vehicles, generating an estimated 10,000 jobs, that could be affected if the rules of import change drastically.
In addition, the importation of used cars has suffered a downturn in recent years, with only 18,000 vehicles entering the country in 2014, representing one third of all vehicle importes, down from 65% in previous years.
A decade ago, more used that new cars were sold in the country.