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LatinNews Daily - 15 January 2021

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In brief: Costa Rica takes Panama trade dispute before WTO

* Costa Rica has formally requested World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute consultations with Panama regarding measures imposed by Panama that restrict or prohibit the import of products such as strawberries, dairy products, meat products, pineapples, and bananas from Costa Rica. Measures contested by Costa Rica include Panama’s February 2020 announcement of a ban on imports of strawberries due to the alleged detection of oxamyl residues that exceeded Panama's maximum legal levels for this substance; Panama’s failure to renew sanitary approval regarding meat products, which expired on 30 June 2020; its January 2019 decision to ban imports of fresh pineapple from Costa Rica due to the alleged detection of the pink hibiscus mealybug pest; and a ban on imports of plantains and bananas from Costa Rica announced in October 2019, until a technical review of the existing phytosanitary requirements had been completed. Costa Rica claims that the import restrictions are inconsistent with provisions under the WTO's Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994. The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, Costa Rica may request adjudication by a panel.