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Costa Rica requests panel over export dispute

Costa Rica requested the creation of an arbitration panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on its dispute with Panama over the blockade of the export of agricultural products, the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Trade announced on Monday.

Costa Rica has had products such as various fruits (strawberry, pineapple and banana) blocked since July 1, 2020, as well as bovine products such as dairy, meat and sausages, among others.

The conflict has been on the table of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body since January 11, when Costa Rica called for consultations on the barrier imposed by Panama to trade, for noting that, allegedly, the Costa Rican industrial plants had not renewed health permits.

For Costa Rica, the measures of its neighboring country are “unjustified” and “the absence of a satisfactory solution after the efforts made (to resolve the conflict), makes it imperative to take the step towards the next stage of the process” before the WTO.

For its part, Panama, in another press release, argued, since the previous year, that Costa Rica had delayed sanitary permits that should authorize its own industries of agricultural products to export to Costa Rican soil. It specifically mentioned five beef plants.

The Costa Rican Foreign Trade Minister, Andrés Valenciano, pointed out that “this decision we have taken does not imply a modification of our vocation for dialogue.”

“The possibility of reaching a solution to the dispute through dialogue remains intact, with the difference that now it will be limited by the timeframe of the process,” he added.

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