Avocado: Mexico beats Costa Rica in the WTO

Mexico won a dispute settlement panel against Costa Rica on an avocado trade case within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Costa Rica breached its obligations under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) by imposing unjustified restrictions on avocados from Mexico.

In particular, the panel determined that Costa Rica has acted in a manner inconsistent with Article 5.1 of the SPS Agreement, by failing to ensure that its phytosanitary measures are based on an assessment, appropriate to the circumstances, of the existing risks for the preservation of the vegetables.

Costa Rica has also acted in a manner inconsistent with Article 5.2 of the SPS Agreement, because, when evaluating the risks, it did not take into account the existing scientific evidence and the prevalence of specific diseases or pests.

At the same time, Costa Rica has acted in a manner inconsistent with Article 5.3 of the SPS Agreement, because, when assessing the risk to the preservation of plants and determining the measure to be applied to achieve the appropriate level of phytosanitary protection against This risk did not take into account as pertinent economic factors: the possible damage due to loss of production or sales in the event of entry, establishment or spread of ASBVd; the costs of control or eradication in the territory of Costa Rica; and the cost-effectiveness of other possible methods to limit risks.


Costa Rica has acted in a manner inconsistent with article 2.2 of the SPS Agreement, by not ensuring that its phytosanitary measures, for example Resolutions DSFE-002-2018 and DSFE-003-2018, which contain phytosanitary requirements, are based on scientific principles and that they are not upheld without sufficient scientific evidence.

In a statement, the Mexican Ministry of Economy said that this controversy dates back to April 2015, when the Phytosanitary Service of the State of Costa Rica (SFE) suspended the importation of avocado from Mexico, alleging a supposed «high risk», derived from the importation of Mexican avocado due to the possible presence of the sunspot viroid (ASBVd).

“The decision of the WTO panel confirms that the measures imposed by Costa Rica are incompatible with the SPS Agreement because: they were not based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances, and it discriminates against Mexican avocados compared to Costa Rican avocados with probable presence of the ASBVd”, said the Ministry of Economy in a press release.

Similarly, the panel confirmed that the avocado exported by Mexico is destined for human consumption and does not represent any risk to the health of the crop, as shown by more than two decades of uninterrupted trade with no record of any mishap due to the export of Mexican avocado to the rest of the world.

The Ministry of Economy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, coordinated the defense of the Mexican State in this procedure, in which they also had the technical and legal support of the Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado of Mexico APEAM, A.C.


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