SAN PEDRO SULA.
After three days of maintaining against wind and tide measures that limit the free transit of goods, the Government of Costa Rica It has caused more than $ 30 million in losses to Central American trade and has caused the bottleneck of more than a thousand trucks on the border with Nicaragua.
To the detriment of trade facilitation in the region, the Costa Rican government put into effect on Monday two executive decrees approved on Friday (42351-H and 42350-MGP-S) that prohibit, notoriously with a shade of discrimination for health reasons, the entry of Central American truckers for being, according to the authorities of that country , suspected of carrying the COVID-19.
In approving the decrees, the Costa Rican authorities argued that in recent weeks they have rejected 31 foreign drivers at the border posts of Peñas Blancas and Tablillas for being infected with the coronavirus. But, even with these arguments, the Central American business community, the carriers and the governments of the region condemned the measures of the administration of Carlos Alvarado Quesada.
Millions The commercial relationship between Central America and Costa Rica exceeded $ 18 billion in the last five years.
For example, for the Federation of Chambers and Industrial Associations of Central America and the Dominican Republic (Fecaica), the measures established at the land borders are “unfeasible” within the logistics system in the region.
Discontent is widespread because the decrees oblige foreign drivers to reach the border and there to “hook” or “unhook” the containers to a Costa Rican driver.
“The transportation of merchandise is the responsibility of the company that, in the first instance, was hired for that purpose. This responsibility cannot be delegated to another company that is not sure of the contents of the container. Additionally, transferring the merchandise involves risks, such as theft and accidents, where insurance can only be collected by the company that the owner of the cargo contracted, “says Fecaica.
On Monday, May 25, an inter-institutional technical group made up of trade, health, migration and customs authorities from all Sica countries will present to the Council of Ministers for Economic Integration (Comieco) a proposal for a biosecurity agreement for borders.
As I had warned LA PRENSA newspaper In an article published on Monday, that organization denounces that “the unilateral measures taken by the Government of Costa Rica They have led to the paralysis of border posts, generating shortages of raw materials and consumer goods, seriously affecting the already battered economy of our countries. “
In an attempt to avoid the scenario that entrepreneurs are now lamenting, Honduras convened a virtual meeting on Monday at Council of Ministers for Economic Integration (I start), but in the end, the meeting did not achieve positive results because Costa RicaDespite the dire consequences, he remains determined to maintain these measures.
The Central American economy ministers proposed to Costa Rica that, instead of these restrictive measures, they use a protocol of biosecurity that it would be used in all the countries of the region; however, the authorities of that country, Dyalá Jiménez, Minister of Foreign Trade, and the Deputy Minister Duayner Rooms, they responded arrogantly to their counterparts, as recorded in the images of the virtual meeting to which he had access THE PRESS.
“And how are sanitary measures going to be harmonized if there are countries that lack sanitary measures at all?” Salas replied during the virtual meeting, held through GoToMeeting and in which they also participated, Vinicio Cherry, general secretary of the Central American Integration System (Sica) and Melvin Redondo, general secretary of the Central American Economic Integration Secretariat (Sieca).
Carlos Eduardo Lechuga Reyes, president of the Association of International Carriers (ATI) from Guatemala, accuses Costa Rica of infecting drivers and also of discriminating against workers in the rest of the region.
“We are asking that these decrees be removed. We were fine with just taking the temperature. That was enough. Unfortunately, they are the ones who infected people and now they blame those of us from CA-4. It turns out that we were all fine, but when they started making swabs, a lot of the infected already appeared, “he said in a telephone interview with LA PRENSA newspaper.
In Guatemala, according Lettuce kings, the carriers “are making a technical stoppage” and have recommended to members and exporters “that if they are going to load to Costa Rica that they do not do it so that they are not going to stay in the queue ”.
Until last night, considering information from the governments of Honduras and Nicaragua, were at the border with Costa Rica 1,352 trucks with food, medicine, raw materials and other merchandise awaiting importers from that country.
According to Sieca statistics, trade between the region and Costa Rica exceeds $ 3.5 billion a year, at a daily rate of $ 10 billion. In 2018, it bought Central America $ 1,132 million and sold more than $ 2,268 million.
The presidential designate Maria Antonia Rivera, Minister of Economic Development, reported that this day the Central American authorities will have a meeting “to work on a regional biosecurity protocol for land transportation of cargo that will standardize prevention and control mechanisms without hindering the transit of goods.”
“As a country, we hold the presidency pro tempore (from Sica), we are concerned because the measure of Costa Rica It strongly impacts the Central American economy. We ask the ministers of Costa Rica to convey our concern to the President and to encourage him to reconsider that measure, “he said. Because the Costa Rican government did not accept the request on Monday from the region’s economy ministers, the Nicaraguan government applied a reciprocal measure, that is, it blocked the border to prevent the passage of trucks from that country. With this restriction, it commercially isolates the neighbor.
At the discretion of Raúl Alfaro, president of the Salvadoran Association of International Freight Forwarders (ASTIC), Costa Rica it is altering all commercial activity “that had already achieved stability”.
“The Ticos must renounce these measures and must use the same directive, the same protocol used by other Central American countries. This protocol must eliminate, to begin with, the immigration restriction; Obviously we must ensure that our carriers do not stay long in neighboring countries. This is because for thirty years, mainly in Costa Rica, for the distance of a thousand kilometers, the drivers, for not coming with the empty trucks, have been waiting for someone to come and offer a return freight, ”he said.
Alfaro, in a telephone interview with LA PRENSA newspaper, expressed that on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica There are about 400 Salvadoran trucks stopped “and this causes economic damage to carriers and cargo owners.”
“Salvadoran carriers are not going to accept that a Costa Rican take our cargo because that reduces the cost of freight. For example, if I am hired for a freight of $ 1,000, perhaps they will only give me $ 700 later because the Costa Rican carrier will charge $ 300 to carry the cargo from the border to the company. And then I will have to return empty to San Salvador, without charge and without profit. These measures are a strong blow. They were already affecting us with tests COVID What were they doing. The carriers had to wait up to three days for the results at the border, on a 30-kilometer border, ”he said.