Costa Rica on Thursday proposed to Central American governments a pilot plan to streamline the transit of goods across borders, a situation that has been complicated by measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
An agreement with Panama, adopted Wednesday, offers carriers three options to introduce their cargo to Costa Rica, which weeks ago imposed restrictions that have caused truck accumulations at Central American border posts.
“The pilot agreement is open to any other country that wants to join,” Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Trade, Dyalá Jiménez, said of the pact with Panama.
She specified that the pact “expands the possibilities that already exist” to move merchandise into and through Costa Rica.
This Central American country established restrictions on the entry of carriers in early May after two cases of COVID-19 were detected in truckers who reached the northern border, which led to the adoption of mandatory tests for all those who enter with merchandise.
Since then, some 50 carriers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Costa Rican health authorities.
Of the three modalities foreseen for the entry of truckers, one is aimed at those who carry cargo between Nicaragua and Panama without leaving merchandise in Costa Rica.
In this case, a caravan of about 50 vans is formed that complete the 12-hour journey accompanied by the police to ensure that controlled stops are made without interacting with locals.
For those who deliver cargo to Costa Rica, a planned option is to unhook the cargo at the border post so that another truck with a local driver will pick it up and complete the delivery.
The third option is for the truck to drop the cargo in a warehouse within Costa Rican territory, which allows a trucker to pick up more cargo for the journey back to his country of origin.
In the latter case, the cargo vehicle is monitored by GPS to ensure that it does not deviate from the programmed path or make unexpected stops.
Some 20% of Costa Rica’s exports go to Central America, and 90% of that total is mobilized by land.
Francisco Quirós, from the National Chamber of Carriers, supported the measure, noting that a “balance is achieved between health and the flow of goods.”