They'll hold a second meeting later this month

Costa Rica and Mexico postpone formation of avocado dispute arbitration committee

Costa Rica and Mexico didn't reach an agreement in the first meeting convened to decide the conformation of the panel of arbitrators that will resolve the Hass avocado dispute in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Thus, they postponed the decision that they were going to take at the meeting they held on Wednesday, March 6, at the WTO, in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex), this happened because they didn't reach an agreement on a first list of mediators proposed by the secretariat of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body.

The decision will now be taken at a second meeting, which will be held on the week of March 23, stated Comex.

At this second meeting, the secretariat of the Dispute Settlement Body will propose a new list of panelists for the consideration of the two parties involved in the litigation.

If there is no consensus between Costa Rica and Mexico, the general director of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, will be responsible for choosing the arbitration committee.

This group will be in charge of ruling in the case presented by Mexico against Costa Rica regarding the Hass avocado trade. This could take 18 to 24 months, according to the calculations of the Minister of Comex, Dyala Jimenez.

The clash over the fruit trade originated in May 2015, when the Costa Rican State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) alleged phytosanitary protection and suspended the issuance of permits to import Hass avocado from Mexico, the world's leading producer and exporter, as well as from seven other markets.

The SFE alleged that these markets were affected by the sunblotch disease, and that it wasn't present in Costa Rica. Mexico criticized the procedure and did not recognize the analyzes and studies presented by Costa Rica to support the measure.

For four years, different contacts and negotiations were held to seek a way out of the WTO, without positive results.


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