RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The World Trade Organization (WTO) today agreed to form an arbitration panel to resolve the dispute between Costa Rica and Panama over the latter’s restrictions on imports of products Costa Rican agriculturalists.
The organization’s Dispute Settlement Body today decided to form this panel in response to Costa Rica’s second request after Panama blocked the first request at the August 30 meeting.
Costa Rica argues that for the past two years, Panama has banned “without scientific basis” the importation of certain Costa Rican imports, including dairy products, meat, sausages, fish and fruits such as strawberries and pineapples or bananas.
San JosÃ© underlines the âlong and prosperousâ commercial relationship between the two neighboring countries and maintains that the bans are not justified because the phytosanitary status of their products has not changed during this period.
According to sources close to the WTO, Panama maintains that the dispute originates in Costa Rica’s failure to renew the procedures necessary to continue exporting its products and regrets that San JosÃ© has brought the trade dispute to the WTO. .
The dispute settlement process before the WTO began last January with a request for bilateral consultations, which always leave room for a third-party dispute settlement panel if an agreement cannot be negotiated.
If the WTO were to participate in the dispute, the Appellate Body, the body’s final instance, would be ultimately responsible for deciding the case. Yet it has been paralyzed for nearly two years due to the United States’ refusal to approve the appointment of new judges to the Appellate Body.
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