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"Costa Rica: "We don't see a solution to the Mexican avocado conflict this year"

Costa Rica's Hass avocado lovers could receive good news regarding the return of this Mexican product.

Costa Rican consumers, who haven't been able to enjoy this product since May 2015, might soon enjoy this product again, as the conflict between both countries could be solved in the near future.

The State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) sent three notifications to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which, if resolved favorably, would allow the delicious product to be imported again from Mexico.

One of these notifications sent by the SFE, on October 16, is to withdraw the emergency measure that suspended the importation of Hass avocado from countries due to the Sunblotch pest. This will be effective upon the entry into force of the definitive measure, once the countries involved (Australia, Spain, Ghana, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the State of Florida, in the United States) comment on it.

If Mexico accepts the changes proposed by Costa Rica, there would be no major problems for the Mexican avocado to enter Costa Rica again, as long as the authorities of that country certify that it comes from a farm or area that is free of sunspot.

The second notification is about phytosanitary requirements. 

According to Randall Benavides, the president of the Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Products, this does not change the situation in any way, as there has been no dialogue between the authorities of both countries to guarantee that the entry ban will be lifted.

"What the government did was to present the restriction in black and white, but we are worried because we do not see a serious effort to establish a dialogue that allows us to achieve a definitive arrangement that guarantees that the Mexican avocado can enter the country again," Benavides said.

"Where's the logic in bringing such an expensive product so that it's rejected here? We recommend that the avocado be tested in Mexico so that they can bring the avocado that passes the test to the country. We only see two extreme positions, where a country says its going to implement something, regardless of what the other country may say, so we do not see a solution for this year, "added the businessman.

According to Benavides, Costa Rican authorities want importers to take the avocado to Costa Rica, where it would be tested, which means that if it doesn't comply they would have to throw it away and lose the investment they made.

However, this is not completely true, as Costa Rica is taking an important step to make restrictive measures more flexible and the rules they propose are what other any country would require to import an agricultural product from a place that has a disease to guarantee that it doesn't pose a risk to consumers.

"All products are subject to phytosanitary control at the point of entry through inspection, sampling, and laboratory tests upon arrival in the country, regardless of the country from which they come, to minimize the risk of pests that may come in the shipments," stated the SFE.

The notifications are in a 60-day consultation period. So far there have been no comments received, but the deadline to comment is December 22, 2017.


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