San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Marchamo Conflict May Reach World Trade Organization

A regional conflict over Costa Rica’s attempt to impose a new electronic vehicle circulation system for incoming cargo trucks may reach the World Trade Organization (WTO) if Central American countries can’t come to an agreement, according to Costa Rica’s Vice-Minister of Finance Adrián Vargas.

Vargas told the daily La República this week that the government would consider appealing to the WTO if negotiations with neighboring countries are not successful.

Last week, a truckers’ strike of nearly two weeks at the Costa Rica-Panama border ended when the Central American Economic Integration System (SIECA) ruled that the marchamo – a tracking system for goods passing through the country, which includes an electronic device truck drivers would have to pay $70-140 to rent – violates regional agreements.

Costa Rican authorities, though standing by the marchamo system and maintaining that SIECA’s decisions are non-binding, have suspended the measure and are planning meetings with all Central American Customs Directors and Economic Integration Ministers to try to gain approval for the system. (TT, March 3).

The electronic marchamo allows officials to trace vehicles’ path through the country via satellite to ensure they do not leave their planned route. It also seals the trucks’ cargo area, which authorities say will ensure none of the merchandise is unloaded before its final destination, therefore ensuring all import taxes are paid.



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