Café Britt Cleared Of Monopoly Allegations

August 25, 2006

The Commission to Promote Competition (CPC), in a ruling last week, found no signs of unfair competition by the Costa Rican coffee and souvenir giant Café Britt.

The commission responded to allegations from the Pura Vida Artisan Association of Costa Rica that Café Britt’s control of the only souvenir shops at the Juan Santamaría International Airport, northwest of San José, is monopolistic, the business weekly El Financiero reported.

The commission, which also said the designation of commercial space in the airport is not a matter in its jurisdiction, advised the artisan association to take its complaints to the Technical Council of Civil Aviation, which is responsible for commercial services at the airport, El Financiero said. The private consortium Alterra Partners has a concession from the government to operate the airport, and Café Britt has the sole contract with Alterra to run the souvenir stores.

The association of artisans also accused Café Britt of cutting some craftsmen from the market, as well as copying some of their products and having them produced in China. Café Britt has emphatically denied copying other products, but acknowledges it imports some goods such as metal key chains, coffee mugs and baseball caps from China because they are less expensive and not particularly artistic products (TT, March 3).

 

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