Concern about Possible Trade Retaliation
Monday, May 31, 2021
Following Costa Rica's decision to impose requirements on the entry of avocados grown in Honduras, Costa Rican businessmen believe that these unilateral measures could generate trade retaliation for the country.
Arguing that molecular biology tests detected the presence of the Avocado Sunblotch viroid in shipments from Honduras, the Costa Rican State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) decided to start taking samples to analyze Honduran avocados.

On May 25, Costa Rican authorities explained that the procedure now consists of retaining avocados grown in Honduran territory, then some tests will be performed on the shipments and then the product will be released once a negative result for Avocado Sunblotch viroid (ASBVd) is obtained.

You may be interested in "Central America: Avocado Sales Increase in Importance"

As soon as these measures were known, representatives of the Costa Rican productive sector stated that there is uncertainty among businessmen and fear for possible commercial retaliation that may be applied by the Government of Honduras.

Manrique Loaiciga, spokesman for the Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Products (Ceipp), told that "... we have not yet had access to the results of the analysis made by the authorities. This to determine if, indeed, this is a real situation or if it is a case similar to that of Mexico in 2015."

The lack of information offered by the SFE generates uncertainty, especially, when the national avocado season is just a couple of weeks away from starting, highlighted the Chamber representative.

Loaiciga added that "... now, a very important thing to consider is the repercussions. Because of the very urgent measure (...) it has to follow a regulation, or is it going to make a mess again, Mexico style? If the measure is badly taken, we are going to see in a few days that Honduras will apply reciprocity'."

Research by CentralAmericaData specifies that Honduran avocado exports have been on the rise in recent years, as in 2016 they amounted to just $53 thousand, in 2017 they rose to $254 thousand, in 2018 they climbed to $753 thousand, in 2019 they rose to $3 million and in 2020 the exported amount totaled $4.4 million.

Reviewing the reported sales data in 2020, official figures detail that 98% of the total exported from Honduras was destined for Costa Rica.

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More on this topic
Costa Rica Applies Requirements on Honduran Avocados
May 2021
Arguing that through molecular biology tests the presence of the Avocado Sunblotch viroid was detected in shipments from Honduras, Costa Rican authorities decided to impose requirements on the entry of the fruit produced in Honduran territory.
Fernando Araya, Director of the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE), confirmed on May 25, 2021 that "... from this moment on, when samples are taken for analysis by the Molecular Biology Laboratory of avocado shipments from Honduras, these will be retained and will be released once a negative result for Avocado Sunblotch viroid (ASBVd) is obtained. The above in compliance with the responsibility to prevent the introduction and spread of pests that threaten food security and economic activity based on agricultural production."
Avocado: Some Lose, Some Win
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Since Costa Rica suspended the entry of Hass avocado from Mexico, countries such as Chile, Peru and Nicaragua have taken advantage of the situation to increase their exports to the Costa Rican market.
The dispute that is still unresolved dates back several years, when in May 2014 the Costa Rican authorities decided to ban the import of avocado from Mexico, arguing the existence of the disease called sunspot. See
history of the conflict
Avocado Conflict: Panel of Arbitrators is Formed
December 2018
The WTO was part of the panel of experts that will resolve Mexico's lawsuit against Costa Rica, arising from the barriers imposed by the Costa Rican authorities to import the fruit.
The trade conflict emerged because of the barriers that Costa Rica imposes since 2014 to the entry of avocado from Mexico. Because the dispute remains unresolved, the authorities of the North American country requested last November 27 to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to submit the case to an arbitration panel.
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Because of the problem of the barriers that Costa Rica has imposed since 2014 to the entry of avocado from Mexico remains unsolved, the Mexican authorities asked the WTO to refer the case to an arbitration panel.
The blockade of the Mexican avocado does not end. The Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex) reported that Mexico requested the WTO to establish a panel of arbitrators to solve the dispute. Such panel will be established in the next meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body, and from that moment on, a term will be established to decide which members will be part of it.
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