Australia, Spain, Ghana, Guatemala, Israel, South Africa and Venezuela are the countries that could support Mexico in the trade litigation initiated against Costa Rica by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
All these countries would act as interested third parties, since they are in the list of countries that cannot export fresh avocados to Costa Rica, according to a resolution issued by the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) on April 22nd, 2015.
Therefore, the group of nations could agree to the claim by the Mexican government that formally requested the opening of consultations with Costa Rica on March 8th in order to try and reach a solution regarding import restrictions of Mexican avocado.
Mexico claims that after more than two decades of uninterrupted avocado trade, in 2015 the SFE imposed import restrictions on it due to the alleged presence of avocado sunblotch viroid.
Moreover, support from other countries is not new. The Mexican complaint was joined in the past by Guatemala, South Africa and the United States, countries that in 2015 submitted their concerns about Costa Rican behavior to the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. However, they never got a response.
In the document of the request for consultations, dated March 13th of this year, the Mexican government raises its disagreement with the omissions of the Costa Rican government, since in the past it did not respond to the comments submitted by Mexico in July and September regarding two resolutions of the SFE.
This is the first time that Costa Rica has opened proceedings under the WTO, a body where Costa Rican participation has traditionally been claimant and in favor of free trade.
To date, Costa Rica has participated in five trials as a claimant (one against the United States, two against Trinidad and Tobago and two against the Dominican Republic) and on 15 occasions it has been an interested third party.
In addition, the country has resorted to dispute settlement mechanisms included in the free trade agreements. In 2014, an arbitration panel of the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the United States and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA) favored Costa Rica and ruled that Costa Rican exports covered by the agreement should receive the tariff preferences denied by El Salvador.