September 24, 2020

Border blockages threaten shortages in Central America



Businessmen from Central America warned on Tuesday that the region is at risk of a shortage due to the blockade at the borders after the imposition by Costa Rica of “unfeasible” restrictions on land cargo transport in an attempt to stop COVID-19.

The genesis of this crisis is that Costa Rica detected at least 50 cases of COVID-19 among truckers of various nationalities, for which it issued two decrees, in force since Monday, that restrict the transit of foreign cargo drivers through its territory , which has been rejected by the rest of Central American countries.

Costa Rica began testing on May 5 and the process is slow, with at least 72 hours to know the results, business sources told Efe, so that since then around a thousand trucks have accumulated on the border of Nicaragua.

The Federation of Chambers and Associations of Exporters of Central America and the Caribbean (Fecaexca) stated on Tuesday that on the Nicaraguan borders of Peñas Blancas and Rivas there are 384 Guatemalan trucks stranded, 284 from El Salvador, 62 from Honduras, 93 from Nicaragua, 103 from Costa Rica and 16 from Panama.

Nicaragua decided to close its border from Sunday after the announcement of the ethical measures, while a group of Panamanian carriers keeps the main border post between Panama and Costa Rica blocked in protest against those restrictions.

REGIONAL SUPPLY BY COSTA RICA “INVIABLE” MEASURES

The Federation of Chambers and Industrial Associations of Central America and the Dominican Republic (Fecaica) blamed the Government of Costa Rica on Tuesday “for the shortages and negative impact that the measures it adopted unilaterally will generate in the region.”

Since Monday, Costa Rica only allows the entry of foreign carriers in transit, that is, those who go from the Nicaraguan border to the Panama border and vice versa, on a journey in police custody.

Foreign transporters whose purpose is to deliver product in Costa Rica may only enter the facilities of the land border posts to unhook the cargo and deliver it to a Costa Rican truck.

“What Costa Rica is proposing is not viable,” the president of the Logistics Business Council (COEL) of Panama, Antonio García-Prieto, told Efe on Tuesday, arguing that no trucker is willing to deliver his cargo at the border because, for example, insurance would be without effect.

The crisis has led to about 50 trucks stationed on the Panamanian side of the border with Costa Rica, while others with scheduled departures “have stayed in the warehouses,” representing millions of dollars in losses and a risk of shortage.

“The products that the region needs at the moment, such as medical supplies, food and medicine in the case of Panama, are stuck in many cases on the Nicaraguan border,” added García-Prieto.

The president of the Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica (Cadexco), Laura Bonilla, stated that the sector is concerned that the situation on the borders causes a shortage of food products and raw materials at the regional level.

For Costa Rica, the Central American region means 2,446 million dollars annually in exports, which constitutes it as its second market after the United States, recalled Bonilla, who asked the Government of his country “to review the measures” to restrict cargo transportation. .

COSTA RICA DEFENDS IT AND THE REGION IS LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS

“We take all these measures because the route Costa Rica has taken is to prioritize life,” said Tuesday the Health Minister, Daniel Salas, who explained that there are 38 cases registered in the country that correspond to truck drivers or primary or secondary contacts. of these, and that a single carrier infected 18 people.

The Minister of Foreign Trade, Dyalá Jiménez, affirmed that her country continues the dialogue with the Central American authorities, to which she raised at a meeting on Monday the elaboration of a biosecurity protocol for carriers that streamlines trade and guarantees preventive measures.

The Government of Panama, which asked Costa Rica to “immediately” resolve the border situation, said in a statement that “the formation of an inter-institutional technical group is expected in the next few hours (…) in an effort to facilitate and guarantee exchanges within the entire region. “

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