Foreign Trade Developments in Latin America

Guatemala and Colombia deepen trade ties with additions to free trade agreement (FTA)
The governments of Guatemala and Colombia have signed an agreement that expands the terms of an FTA between the countries. The majority of products being liberalized under the new terms relate to the textile industry.
For more information, see “Productos Textiles Son Incluidos en TLC,” November 6, 2018,

Mexico begins WTO dispute settlement process against Costa Rica
Following a series of bilateral consults between Mexico and Costa Rica, Mexico will initiate a settlement process over Costa Rican restrictions on imports of Mexican avocados. Mexico will argue that Costa Rican non-tariff barriers such as controls, inspections, and approval procedures are illegal.
For more information, see “México Lleva a Costa Rica a Panel de la OMC por Restricciones al Aguacate,” November 27, 2018,

Central America

Central American Secretariat of Integration (SIECA) creates digital platform to address obstacles to foreign trade
SIECA has created a digital platform that will help to address technical obstacles for businesses engaging in foreign trade in Central America. It is expected that once the obstacles are resolved, the cost of logistics in Central America will be reduced by 40 percent. The platform is called “Foreign Trade Incidences” and can be found at
For more information, see “Plataforma Ayudará a Resolver Obstáculos al Comercio,” December 3, 2018,

Northern Triangle Customs Union opens first integrated border post
The presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador inaugurated the first integrated border post of the Northern Triangle Customs Union. The El Poy integrated border post is located in the province of Chalatenango in El Salvador. It will have booths for the processing of goods in free circulation and provide for an increase in the number of lanes for vehicles in transit.
For more information, see “El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala Inauguran Puesto Fronterizo Integrado El Poy,” December 7, 2018,

Costa Rica and China sign agreement with intent to innovate agricultural technology
The Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and the Department of International Cooperation of the China Ministry of Science and Technology have signed an agreement on mutual understanding with the intent to start projects that will advance agricultural technology and help in the development of global agricultural value chains. The first project is an experimental model farm that will serve as a showcase for high technology that can be used as a model for the rest of Central America.
For more information, see “Costa Rica Firma Agenda de Innovación Agrícola con China,” November 14, 2018,

Costa Rica expedites timeline to receive tax exemption for import of medical supplies
The government of Costa Rica has expedited the length of time that it takes to obtain a tax exemption for imports of medical supplies such as surgical cotton, gowns, and hospital beds. The number of days has been reduced to 10. The tax exemption, created by Article 4 of Law 7293, applies to medical supplies and equipment that cannot be manufactured in the country.
For more information, see “Costa Rica Simplifican Trámite de Exoneración para Importación de Insumos Medicos,” November 19, 2018,

Costa Rica starts using digital signatures for phytosanitary certificates
The government of Costa Rica has started implementing digital signatures for phytosanitary certificates in order to reduce the length and cost of the process. This move will expedite the length of time to obtain a phytosanitary certificate since applicants will no longer have to go to the National Phytosanitary Service office to obtain the certificate.
For more information, see “Digitalizan Firmas para Certificados de Exportacion,” November 22, 2018,

Costa Rica and Panama advance border control objectives on shared border
Costa Rica and Panama have identified gaps and reviewed options to advance joint border controls with the objectives of controlling the shared border and effectively handling the flow of migration, merchandise, and vehicles at the Paso Canoas border post. The National Customs Service of Costa Rica has stated that joint border controls will facilitate the exchange of information for risk management and the use of non-intrusive technology in order to achieve these objectives.
For more information, see “Costa Rica y Panamá Avanzan en Controles Fronterizos,” December 3, 2018,

Costa Rica and Nicaragua update rules on avian disease controls
The National Animal Health Service (SENASA) of the Costa Rica Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Nicaragua Institute of Agricultural Protection and Health (IPSA) have signed an agreement to strengthen rules on the control of avian flu and other diseases in the commercial exchange of fertile eggs, chickens, and dairy products and sub-products.
For more information, see “Costa Rica y Nicaragua Firman Protocolo de Sanidad Aviar para Exportar,” December 4, 2018,

Costa Rica and Nicaragua invited to join Northern Triangle Customs Union
The presidents of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have invited Nicaragua and Costa Rica to join the newly formed Northern Triangle Customs Union. The Customs Union has led to expedited processing times through border crossings.
For more information, see “Invitan a Nicaragua y Costa Rica a la Unión Aduanera,” December 8, 2018,

Cuba and Guatemala will apply preferential trade rates to 61 products
Trade representatives from Cuba and Guatemala reached an agreement to liberalize trade for 61 products, including 28 Guatemalan products and 33 Cuban products. These include products such as shrimp, mangoes, sweets, non-alcoholic beverages, and electric batteries.
For more information, see “Cuba y Guatemala Aplicarán Preferencias Arancelarias Mutuas en 61 Productos,” November 1, 2018,

Ferry project between El Salvador and Costa Rica is halted
A planned ferry between El Salvador and Costa Rica was canceled due to a lack of interest on both parts to start the project and uncertainty over the use of the port of La Union. This port is waiting on Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to accept bidding on its concession.
For more information, see “Se Congela el Proyecto del Ferry Entre El Salvador y Costa Rica,” November 1, 2018,

El Salvador participates in China’s Import Expo, solidifying future in trade relations between the two countries
Twenty Salvadorian businesses participated in China’s Import Expo in November 2018. Among the businesses at the expo were coffee growers, sweet confectioners, textiles, sugar, and multiple service providers.
For more information, see “El Salvador Participa en Exposición Internacional de Importaciones de China,” November 5, 2018,

Acajutla Customs office in El Salvador will be digitized with SIDUNEA World system
The Customs office at Acajutla, El Salvador, will now use the SIDUNEA World system (known in English as the Automated System for Customs Data, ASYCUDA), which will reduce the steps in the import process. Through this system, businesses wishing to import their goods will be able to make all transactions electronically.
For more information, see “El Salvador: Desde el 15 de Noviembre se Reducirán Trámites de Importación en Acajutla,” November 14, 2018,

El Salvador bans import of high-sulfur diesel
El Salvador has banned the importation and commercialization of high-sulfur diesel within its borders, following a commitment made by the members of the Council of Ministers of Economic Integration of Central America (COMIECO).
For more information, see “El Salvador Prohíbe la Importación Diésel con Alto Contenido Azufre,” November 29, 2018,

El Salvador to build new border precinct in El Amatillo
The government of El Salvador has authorized a contract for the design and construction of a border precinct for cargo transport in El Amatillo. The modernization of this border post is expected to reduce the time it takes to cross the border from 8 hours to 30 minutes.
For more information, see “FOMILENIO Firma Contrato para Diseño y Construcción de Recinto Fronterizo,” December 1, 2018,

Honduras lowers import tariffs for sheets of steel to 25 percent
In November, the government of Honduras approved Agreement 127 of 2018, which reduced tariffs on imports of sheets of steel from 35 percent to 25 percent.
For more information, see “A 25% Baja el Arancel para la Importación de Laminas de Acero,” November 7, 2018,

Honduras will begin exporting breaded crawfish to Taiwan
Honduran businesses will begin exporting breaded crawfish to Taiwan after participating in the Fish and Shellfish International Fair in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
For more information see “Honduras Lleva Pinchos y Camarón Empanizado a Mercado de Taiwán,” November 8, 2018,

Honduras will begin exporting crawfish to Mexico
The Ministry of Economic Development of Honduras has announced that it will allow the export of crawfish to Mexico again. Imports of crawfish to Mexico from Honduras stopped in October 2017 due to an outbreak of yellow head syndrome in Honduran crawfish populations.
For more information, see “Honduras Reanudará Exportaciones de Camarón a México,” November 9, 2018,

Nicaragua increases the number of phytosanitary certificates granted to cosmetic products imports
The government of Nicaragua has increased the number of phytosanitary certificates granted to importers of cosmetic products. The move also is expected to benefit small and medium-sized cosmetics importers.
For more information, see “Amplían Permisos Sanitarios en Nicaragua para Importar Cosméticos,” December 17, 2018,

Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) becomes associate member of the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo)
The association has 131 official members, including shipowners, managers, and operators of dry cargo vessels, as well as 73 associate members. AMP’s inclusion in the association will allow it to network with other port authorities around the world and access Intercargo’s exclusive research and publications with the goal of improving the management of Panama’s ports.
For more information, see “Autoridad Marítima de Panamá se Convierte en Nuevo Miembro Asociado de Intercargo,” November 2, 2018,

Panama will increase import tax on mozzarella cheese
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Panama acceded to demands from local dairy producers to increase the tax on mozzarella cheese imports from 15 to 30 percent. The funds raised by the tax reportedly will be used for technical assistance to local milk producers.
For more information, see “Aumentarán Arancel de Queso ‘Mozzarella’,” November 15, 2018,

Panama bans imports of romaine lettuce from the United States
Panama has banned imports of romaine lettuce and other lettuce varieties from the U.S. due to an outbreak of E. coli.
For more information, see “Panamá Restringe Importación de Lechuga de EU,” November 22, 2018,

Panama and the United Kingdom sign memorandum of understanding (MOU) to combat organized crime
Panama’s National Customs Authority and the United Kingdom Border Force have signed an MOU to combat transnational criminal organizations involved in contraband, fraud, and money laundering crimes in Panama. The MOU will allow for greater sharing of information, which is expected to increase the capacity of Panama to gather intelligence, assess risk, and secure ports and improve criminal justice practices.
For more information, see “Panamá y Reino Unido Firman Memorando para Combatir el Crimen Organizado,” November 23, 2018,

China Council for International Investment Promotion (CCPIT) establishes office in Panama
The CCPIT has established its first Central American office in Panama. The CCPIT seeks to fortify bilateral cooperation on trade and investment, increase the scale of commerce and investment, expand services, promote dialogue and exchanges, and complement bilateral projects to benefit both countries. The Panamanian government expects that this new office will be a bridge to connect Panama with Chinese investors.
For more information, see “Consejo Chino de Comercio Internacional Establece Oficina Comercial en Panamá,” November 30, 2018,

Panama and China sign 19 agreements, including commercial exchanges
The governments of Panama and China have signed a variety of agreements on tourism, diplomacy, international commerce, and other topics. The agreements include memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on e-commerce, trade in services, and cooperation between the Panama National Bank and the Bank of China.
For more information, see “China y Panamá Firmaron 19 Pactos de Turismo, Comercio y Diplomático,” December 3, 2018,

Panama to begin exporting beef and other foods to China
The China ambassador to Panama and the Panama Minister of Agricultural Development signed an agreement that will allow for the export of Panamanian beef, pineapple, black salmon, and black kite fish to China.
For more information, see “Firman Protocolo para Exportación de Carne Bovina Panameña a China,” December 4, 2018,

Panama logistics hub workers go on strike, affecting trade in the region
Workers in Panama’s Directorate General of Customs went on strike at the beginning of December to demand an increase in pay and bonuses. As a result, ships were stopped without being processed, which led to longer waiting times. The Colón Free Zone and other ports and re-export zones were affected by the strike.
For more information, see “Puertos y Zonas Logísticas de Panamá Afectadas por Huelga de Aduanas,” December 7, 2018,

North America

Mexico publishes rules for planting, importing, exporting, and commercializing medical cannabis
The Secretariat of Health of Mexico (SALUD) has established rules and criteria that will regulate the growth, import, export, and commercialization of medical marijuana. Mexico will control the importation of medicinal marijuana and products derived from it. It is expected that SALUD will release further guidance for commercializing, importing, and exporting products derived from cannabis that have a concentration of less than one percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in the plant.
For more information, see “Estas Son las Reglas para la Siembra, Importación y Comercialización en México de Marihuana con Fines Medicinales,” November 6, 2018,

Mexican government inspected imports of Christmas trees
In November, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection of Mexico (PROFEPA) announced the verification and inspection of Christmas trees imported to Mexico. The initiative was implemented to guarantee that the trees introduced into the country do not pose a phytosanitary risk to Mexican flora. The Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has performed inspections at the ports of entry used to import the trees.
For more information, see “Revisarán Importación de Árboles Navideños,” November 10, 2018,

Mexican President changes cabinet name of agricultural government body
The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) will change the name of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) to the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER). SAGARPA is responsible for issuing phytosanitary certificates for imports of vegetables. It is also responsible for issuing animal health certificates, together with the National Service of Health, Safety, and Agrifood Quality (SENASICA).
For more information, see “Desaparecerá el Nombre de Sagarpa, Anuncia el Futuro Titular de AMLO,” November 11, 2018,

Avocado exports from Mexico to resume
Avocado exports from Mexico came to a halt for 16 days following the outbreak of a conflict between producers and packers.
For more information, see “México Reanuda Exportaciones de Aguacate al Mundo,” November 14, 2018,

Mexico will grant import quotas on milk and milk products from CPTPP members
Chapter 3 of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) includes a new quota for processed milk imports from CPTPP member countries. As a result of this provision, Mexico will allow 500 tons of processed milk to enter its national market free of tariffs. This will increase to 750 tons 11 years after the agreement enters into force. Mexico also will open its market to a quota of 250,000 tons of milk and cream milk (not concentrate and without added sugar) beginning in January 2019. This quota will increase to 375,000 tons 11 years after the CPTPP enters into effect. In addition, Mexico will concede an import quota of 1,000 tons of condensed milk beginning in 2019, which will grow to 1,500 tons 11 years after the CPTPP enters into force.
For more information, see “El CPTPP Abre Cupo para Importaciones de Leche Evaporada,” November 20, 2018,

Mexico will export beef, lamb, and chicken to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment authorized the import of meat, dairy products, and eggs originating in Mexico. The National Service of Health, Safety, and Agrifood Quality (SENASICA) and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) will be able to authorize phytosanitary and animal health certificates for producers of poultry, beef, sheep and goat meat, bovine milk and dairy products, and eggs and egg products.
For more information, see “Mexico Podrá Iniciar las Exportaciones de Carne de Vacuno, Ovino y Aves a Emiratos Árabes Unidos,” November 26, 2018,

Secretariat of Economy (SE) blocks sale of products containing cannabis
The SE blocked an effort by the Federal Commission for the Protection against Phytosanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) of Mexico to allow the importation, exportation, and commercialization of 38 cannabis products that contain less than one percent of THC.
For more information, see “SE Bloquea Venta de Productos con Marihuana,” November 29, 2018,

United States, Mexico, and Canada sign USMCA
At the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the United States, Mexico, and Canada signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new agreement will enter into force once the legislature of each country ratifies it.
For more information, see “Trump Signs New Trade Deal with Canada and Mexico after Bitter Negotiations,” November 30, 2018,

Mexico gets exemption from potential U.S. auto tariffs
On the day that the United States, Mexico, and Canada signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed Side Letter 232, which would exempt 2.6 million passenger vehicles and light trucks imported from Mexico to the United States from tariffs in the event that the U.S. imposed tariffs on auto imports.
For more information, see “México Está a Salvo de Que EU Cobre Aranceles a los Autos Importados,” November 30, 2018,

Rates at Mexican ports will increase 15 percent
On December 22, the decree of reform to the Mexican Customs Law came into effect, leading to a 15 percent increase in the rates charged to businesses using port terminals in Mexico.
For more information, see “México: Portuarios Buscarán Revertir Reforma a la Ley Aduanera por la Vía Legal,” December 5, 2018,

Mexican government plans to restructure national system of ports, including moving Customs offices outside of port precincts
The government of Mexico has announced a major reorganization of its national port system. Among the changes announced is the intent to assign 16 federal port administrations to 5 new regional Integral Coastal Port Systems (Sipco). These regions are: the northwestern zone (including the ports on the Baja California peninsula), the central region (including the ports of Acapulco and Veracruz), the south region (including the Port of Salina Cruz), the peninsular region (including the Port of Progreso), and the northeastern region (including the Port of Matamoros). As part of this effort, the government intends to move Customs offices outside of port precincts to highway corridors.
For more information, see “Dan a Conocer Planes para Delimitar Regiones Portuarias en México,” December 5, 2018,

South America

Andean Community (CA) will update rules on statistics modeling for aquatic transport
The General Secretariat of the CA, which consists of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, will revise and update rules on how statistics for aquatic transport are compiled in the region. The way in which statistics are compiled within the bloc will be harmonized, leading to more efficient data sharing.
For more information, see “Comunidad Andina Actualizará Normas para la Elaboración de Estadísticas de Transporte Acuático,” November 14, 2018,

Chile and Peru sign agreement on transport infrastructure cooperation
The presidents of Chile and Peru signed 14 formal agreements and made 163 compromises on subjects such as security, defense, foreign trade, border integration, and infrastructure. One of the main objectives for both countries is to increase connectivity between the Tacna (Peru) and Aria (Chile) border regions.
For more information, see “Presidentes Piñera y Vizcarra Suscriben Más de 160 Compromisos en II Gabinete Binacional Chile-Perú,” November 27, 2018,

Southern Common Market (Mercosur) signs memorandum of economic and trade cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)
The heads of state of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) signed a memorandum of economic and trade cooperation with members of the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia). Mercosur hopes that the signing of the memorandum will lead to future dialogue and cooperation in economic and trade relations.
For more information, see “MERCOSUR Firmará Memorándum con la Unión Económica Euroasiatica (UEE),” December 17, 2018,

Argentine government increases bag allowance
The government of Argentina has increased baggage allowance from US$300 to US$500. As a result, those who enter with products under US$500 into Argentina will be exempted from paying an extra charge. This increase harmonizes Argentina’s baggage allowance with the other member states of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).
For more information, see “Aduana: El Gobierno Aumenta el Tope para Ingresar Productos desde el Exterior de 300 a 500 Dólares,” November 7, 2018,

Argentina provides customs benefits to oil and gas producers
The Argentine government has allowed producers of oil and gas to access customs benefits that were previously discontinued in 2012. The move is being implemented in a bid to promote the development of new projects in the oil and gas industries.
For more information, see “Argentina Habilita Beneficios Impositivos y Aduaneros a Petroleras,” November 14, 2018,

Argentina will begin exporting beef to the United States
The government of Argentina announced that the U.S. has approved the import of Argentine beef. The U.S. market had been closed to Argentine beef producers for 17 years, with the exception of certain cuts in 2015. The opening of the market will provide Argentina access to a quota of 20,000 tons annually, 80 percent of which is estimated to be in ground beef and 20 percent in premium cuts of beef.
For more information, see “Argentina Exportará Carne Bovina a Estados Unidos,” November 27, 2018,

Argentina and Singapore agree to increase trade
The president of Argentina and the prime minister of Singapore agreed to continue working on a bilateral trade relationship, including eventually signing new commercial agreements to promote tourism to Argentina and the export of Argentine products to Singapore.
For more information, see “Argentina y Singapur Acordaron Impulsar el Comercio y las Exportaciones,” November 29, 2018,

Argentina and India made commitment to increase bilateral trade
Argentina’s president and India’s prime minister made a commitment to increase bilateral trade, including in lithium.
For more information, see “Macri y Modi Acuerdan Aumentar el Comercio entre Argentina e India,” December 1, 2018,

Argentina and Russia sign bilateral agreements and promise to strengthen bilateral trade
The presidents of Argentina and the Russian Federation held a meeting during a visit by Vladimir Putin to Buenos Aires for the G20 Summit. The two leaders spoke about bilateral cooperation on trade and security issues. The meeting also led to substantive talks about Russian projects in Argentina, including a possible railway in the Vaca Muerta area and a port project in the area of the Paraná River.
For more information, see “Macri y Putin Acordaron Fortalecer el Comercio Bilateral,” December 1, 2018,

Argentina and South Korea agree to increase investments and exports
The presidents of Argentina and South Korea have agreed to promote exports of Argentine agricultural products to South Korea.
For more information, see “Corea del Sur y Argentina Acuerdan Incrementar las Inversiones y Exportaciones,” December 1, 2018,

Argentina and China sign more than 30 agreements
During China’s visit to Argentina for the G20 Summit that took place in Buenos Aires, the presidents of Argentina and China signed over 30 agreements on subjects such as trade cooperation, finance, infrastructure, and customs. The plan will be developed over the next five years. In addition to those agreements, China opened its market to imports of beef, honey, cherries, standing horses, and pork from Argentina.
For more information, see, “Argentina y China Firmaron Más de 30 Acuerdos,” December 3, 2018,

Argentina creates logistics trade hub in Panama
The Argentine Agency for Investment and International Trade (AAICI) has installed a logistics trade hub in the Colón Free Zone in Panama, which will help Argentina to service markets in Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. This logistics hub includes services such as reception, clearance, declaration, customs inspection, transport, unloading of containers, inventory control, dry storage, refrigeration, and freezing.
For more information, see “Argentina Coloca Hub Logístico en Panamá,” December 13, 2018,

Argentina inaugurates its Single Window of Foreign Trade (VUCE)
VUCE is a digital platform that will consolidate and allow all foreign trade procedures to take place electronically. The government of Argentina hopes that by November 2019 all foreign trade operations will be completely digitized.
For more information, see “Argentina Pone en Marcha la Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior para Impulsar las Exportaciones,” December 14, 2018,

The Federal Tax Administration (AFIP) of Argentina simplifies process for fiscal deposit regime
AFIP has simplified the process for the general fiscal deposit regime. Prior to the digitization of this process, applicants had to fill out several forms in front of a public notary, which led to long waiting times and high costs. Furthermore, the old system did not allow for long-term qualification, and many of the businesses granted the right of operating in fiscal deposits had a temporary permit. The new process will be completely electronic through the Single Window of Foreign Trade (VUCE), and the government has increased the amount of time a business can hold a temporary permit to 365 days and 10 years upon renewal. Fiscal deposits are customs areas that store merchandise entering and exiting the country.
For more information, see “Se Simplificó el Proceso de Habilitaciones de Depósitos Fiscales,” December 17, 2018,

Bolivia seeks to sign agreements with neighboring countries to develop port infrastructure
Bolivia is seeking to sign an agreement with the ports of Nueva Palmira and Montevideo in order to finalize access to the corresponding waterways in Uruguay, Argentina, and Paraguay. Bolivia seeks to develop its international port infrastructure to gain greater access to the Atlantic Ocean.
For more information, see “Bolivia Firmará un Acuerdo Operativo con los Puertos de Nueva Palmira y Montevideo,” December 8, 2018,

Bolivia will export beef and dairy to Cuba
The president of Bolivia’s National Service for Agriculture and Health Safety announced that after Cuban authorities inspected six Bolivian beef processing plants, four storage plants, and one dairy processing plant, Cuba will begin to import beef and dairy products from Bolivia.
For more information, see “Cuba Importará Productos Cárnicos y Lácteos de Bolivia,” December 16, 2018,

Brazil and China sign assistance agreement
Brazil has signed into law Decree No. 9,542 of 2018, which promulgates the assistance agreement between Brazil and China on the sharing of customs information. The agreement enables the countries’ customs administrations to exchange information and provide administrative assistance to each other.
For more information, see “Brazil-China Assistance Agreement Guarantees Exchange of Customs Information,” November 1, 2018,

Brazil reduces taxes on import of 12 products
The Foreign Trade Chamber of Brazil (CAMEX) has modified the List of Exceptions (LETEC) to the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) Common External Tariff (CET). Six products were added to the LETEC, four were excluded, and two were maintained. The six products that were added to the LETEC are: insecticides classified in code 3808.69.90 of the Mercosur Common Nomenclature (NCM); polyamide 6, uncharged, having a relative viscosity of 2,38 or more and not more than 2,46 in code 3908.10.24 of the NCM; cable with aluminum conductor in code 8544.60.00 of the NCM; styrene-acrylonitrile copolymer in code 3903.20.00 of the NCM; non-charged styrene-butadiene-acrylonitrile (ABS) copolymer in code 3903.30.20 of the NCM; and white mineral oils in code 2710.19.91 of the NCM.
For more information, see “Camex Amends List and Exceptions to Common Tariff and Reduces Import Tax on Twelve Products,” November 12, 2018,

Brazil and the United States sign harmonizing agreement to facilitate trade in the ceramic tiles sector
The Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade, and Services (MDIC) of Brazil and the U.S. Department of Commerce signed their first regulatory harmonization agreement on bilateral trade of porcelain tiles. The move is expected to lead to greater sector integration and a reduction in operational costs for producers.
For more information, see “First US-Brazil Convergence Agreement Facilitates Trade in Ceramic Sector,” November 13, 2018,

Importers and exporters of wines and other beverages to and from Brazil now can be certified electronically
According to the terms of Normative Instruction No. 67, importers and exporters of certain beverages, including acetic fermentations, wines, and derivatives of grapes and wine, now can be certified electronically. As a result, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) and the Ministry of Planning have created an automated tool to allow exporters and importers from all over Brazil to make requests through the Service Portal of the Ministry of Planning. The portal can be found at
For more information, see “Export and Import of Beverages Is Counted on an Electronic Certification Process,” November 16, 2018,

Brazil and Sweden agree to advance aeronautics and technology sectors
The Brazil-Sweden High Level Group on Aeronautics (GAN) and the Working Group on Innovative High Technology Industrial (GTATI) met in Brasilia on December 21, 2018, to discuss economic cooperation between the aeronautics and technology sectors of Brazil and Sweden. The agreement reached is expected to foment investment and commercial expansion of companies in both countries.
For more information, see “Brazil and Sweden Advance in Cooperation in the Aeronautical and Technological Innovation Sectors,” November 22, 2018,

Brazil updates import clearance procedure
The Department of Federal Revenue (RFB) has published Normative Instruction No. 1,854 of 2018 in which it amended a special clearance procedure that can occur as a result of breach of jurisdiction. In this case, the procedure must be processed in the Fiscal Analysis Unit. In addition, this instruction provides guidance for goods being transported in bulk subject to direct discharge, which now must be conducted by the dispatching unit where the goods are unloaded.
For more information, see “Revenue Updates Standard on Import Dispatch Due to Breach of Jurisdiction,” December 7, 2018,

Brazil amends customs warehouse special regime
The Department of Federal Revenue (RFB) amended the customs warehouse special regime in RFB Normative Instruction No. 863 of 2008. The instruction changes the rules governing where customs warehouses may be located and how they may be accredited. In addition, a provision of the instruction will modernize and simplify the control of goods located inside customs warehouses.
For more information, see “Federal Revenue Ordinance Amends Standard on Special Regime of Customs Warehouse,” December 18, 2018,

Mercosur allows Brazil to reduce tariffs on 49 products in chemical sector
The Southern Common Market (Mercosur) has allowed for a reduction of 2 percent for 49 products in the chemical sector that are found on the Mercosur Common Nomenclature (NCM). The reduction in tariffs was granted as a sectoral reduction of the Common External Tariff (CET) established by Mercosur. Among the products that received a reduction in tariffs are diphenylmethane diisocyanato, elastane wire feedstock, and hydrogen fluoride (hydrofluoric acid), which are the raw materials for the production of R22 refrigerant gas used in refrigeration systems.
For more information, see “Mercosur Approves Brazil’s Proposal to Reduce Tariffs on 49 Products in the Chemical Sector,” December 19, 2018,

Brazil signs Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) agreement with Peru with intent to increase integration between Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and Pacific Alliance
The governments of Brazil and Peru have signed an agreement that will lead to the mutual recognition of each country’s AEO program participants. The agreement is supposed to simplify export and import procedures in both countries and further cooperation between the two largest trading blocs in Latin America.
For more information, see “Brazil Signs Agreement with Peru on New Approach Step with Pacific Alliance,” November 27, 2018,

Chile joins China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative
The Minister of Foreign Relations of Chile announced that Chile has joined China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative. More than 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America have joined the initiative.
For more information, see “Chile Se Incorporará a la Iniciativa de la Franja y la Ruta con China,” November 1, 2018,

Chilean Chamber of Deputies approves free trade agreement with Argentina
The Chamber of Deputies of Chile has approved a free trade agreement (FTA) with Argentina. The FTA seeks to expand and deepen investments, services, and customs services between the neighboring countries.
For more information, see “Diputados en Chile Aprueban el Tratado de Libre Comercio con Argentina,” November 9, 2018,

Chile now can export six fruit varieties to Indonesia
The government of Indonesia has lifted restrictions on imports of grapes, apples, blueberries, cherries, kiwis, and pears from Chile.
For more information, see “Lista para Venderse: Indonesia Levanta Restricciones para las Exportaciones de Seis Frutas Chilenas,” November 13, 2018,

Chile and Singapore agree to work on e-commerce free trade agreement
The president of Chile and the prime minister of Singapore have signed an agreement adopting a series of compromises on digital trade. They also agreed to work on the digitization and modernization of government (e-government).
For more information, see “Chile y Singapur Se Comprometen a Trabajar en un Acuerdo de Libre Comercio Digital,” November 14, 2018,

Colombia and the Netherlands seek to fortify trade relations
Representatives of the government of the Netherlands visited Colombia with the intent to increase bilateral trade between the two countries. The Netherlands intends to provide Colombia with logistics support, as well as technical and scientific experience to help achieve this goal.
For more information, see “Holanda Visita Colombia para Fortalecer Sus Relaciones Comerciales,” November 25, 2018,

Chile opens customs office in Tierra del Fuego
The National Customs Service of Chile has opened a customs office in the Tierra del Fuego territory to promote trade and the circulation of goods in the region. The office is 170 km from the capital of the region of Magallanes and 168 km from Porvenir.
For more information, see “Aduana Inaugura Oficina Estratégica para Comercio en Tierra del Fuego,” November 27, 2018,

Chilean Senate approves commercial agreement with Indonesia and modernization of free trade agreement with Canada
The Chilean Senate has approved the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Chile and Indonesia and the modernization of the Chile-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It is expected that CEPA will enter into effect during the first trimester of 2019.
For more information, see “Senado Aprueba Nuevo Acuerdo Comercial entre Chile e Indonesia y Modernización del TLC con Canadá,” November 28, 2018,

Colombia and the Netherlands begin to share digital phytosanitary certificates
The governments of Colombia and the Netherlands have agreed to begin sharing phytosanitary certificates electronically. Paper certificates will no longer be needed to import or export agricultural products. The electronic certification to be used by both countries will be known as E-Cert.
For more information, see “Colombia y Holanda Serán Pioneros en Intercambio de Certificados Sanitarios Electrónicos,” November 29, 2018,

Chile and China sign agreements to renew requirements for transport of fresh fruits in refrigerated ship chambers
The Minister of Customs of China visited Chile and signed agreements to renew the requirements and conditions for transporting fresh fruit in refrigerated ship chambers. Chilean fresh fruit now can travel to China not only in containers but also in cargo warehouses.
For more information, see “Ministro de Aduanas de China Concreta Avances para el Comercio Bilateral Agrícola y Pecuario entre Esa Nación y Chile,” December 3, 2018,

Colombia and Ecuador sign bilateral agreement on trade, borders, and other issues
Colombia and Ecuador signed an agreement on a variety of subjects, including border issues, infrastructure and connectivity, and security and defense.
For more information, see “Ecuador y Colombia Firman Acuerdo Binacional de 43 Puntos,” December 4, 2018,

Colombia seeks to advance multimodal cargo transport
The Ministry of Transportation of Colombia has created a network of 1,615 km of road and more than 3,000 km of railroads to help advance multimodal trade connectivity that will unite maritime and fluvial ports, trains, and cargo trucks with the intent to increase foreign trade.
For more information, see “Colombia Priorizará Sus Esfuerzos en Conectividad Multimodal para Transporte de Carga,” December 5, 2018,

Chile and China sign agreements on seafood trade
The governments of Chile and China have signed two protocols that will facilitate the exchange and shipping of seafood products from Chile to China. The first memorandum deals with the electronic certification of seafood products originating in Chile. The second memorandum opens the Chinese market for fish oil produced in Chile.
For more information, see “Colombia: Capitanía de Puerto Barranquilla Establece Restricciones de Acceso a Barcos Portacontenedores,” December 8, 2018,

Barranquilla port operators restrict access to container ships
Due to technical issues, port operators at the Port of Barranquilla have restricted access to the port to container ships. Twenty-five thousand tons of goods handled at the port are to be affected.
For more information, see “Colombia: Capitanía de Puerto Barranquilla Establece Restricciones de Acceso a Barcos Portacontenedores,” December 8, 2018,

Port operators in Valparaiso go on strike, hampering trade through Chile’s busiest port
Close to 750 workers of the Port of Valparaiso in Chile have started a strike demanding better salaries. By December 17, 2018, the strike was estimated to have cost US$16 million in losses. The port is a major gateway for many Chilean products to foreign markets, including 56 percent of Chilean fruits.
For more information, see “Portuarios Llevan un Mes de Huelga en el Principal Puerto de Chile,” December 17, 2018,

Ecuador now may export cherry tomatoes to the United States
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allowed the importation of cherry tomatoes from Ecuador. Producers of this product in Ecuador will have to abide by the Systems Approach (created by the USDA) to enter the American market.
For more information, see “EEUU Permite Importación de Tomates de Árbol de Ecuador,” November 10, 2018,

Ecuador eliminates import tariffs on vehicle parts and components
The Ecuador Foreign Trade Committee (Comex) has approved the elimination of import tariffs on vehicle parts and components. In addition, the Ecuadorian government has eliminated 50 technical regulations that affected 220 tariff codes in the Ecuadorian Single Window System. The government expects that these initiatives will incentivize domestic car production.
For more information, see “Comex Dispone Tarifa Arancelaria 0% para la Importación de Piezas y Partes de Vehículos,” November 22, 2018,

Ecuador begins exporting rice to Colombia
The governments of Ecuador and Colombia reached an agreement that will allow 44,200 tons of rice to enter Colombia from Ecuador. Ninety percent of the product is to be exported by ship and 10 percent is to be exported by cargo truck.
For more information, see “Las Exportaciones de Arroz a Colombia Se Reactivaron,” December 5, 2018,

Guyana and China sign memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote maritime trade
The governments of Guyana and China have signed an MOU that will promote maritime trade and encourage the usage of each other’s currencies. The agreement is expected to lead to greater economic cooperation between the two countries. In addition, Guyana has agreed to join China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative.
For more information, see “Guyana and China MoU Encompasses Free Market Principles-Sees Expanded Use of Currencies of Both Countries,” November 4, 2018,

Guyana and the European Union (EU) sign Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on legal timber trade
The government of Guyana and the EU have signed a VPA that will promote trade in legal timber while protecting the environment through the proper application of forest laws and strengthened forest governance. The agreement is also expected to help curb illegal logging.
For more information, see “Guyana and the EU Reach an Agreement to Promote Trade in Legal Timber Products and Improve Forest Governance,” December 20, 2018,

Paraguay will develop digital trade platform
The government of Paraguay has announced its intention to develop a digital foreign trade platform. The platform is expected to help facilitate trade, with an emphasis on small and medium-sized companies.
For more information, see “Paraguay Accederá a Portal Informativo de Comercio Exterior,” November 20, 2018,

Paraguayan government continues to restrict potato and onion imports
The government of Paraguay announced that it will continue to restrict the importation of potatoes and onions to favor local producers. In justifying its decision, the government stated that local producers are now able to produce enough of these types of products.
For more information, see “Gobierno Paraguayo Seguirá Restringiendo Importación de Papa y Cebolla,” November 23, 2018,

Paraguay and Uruguay agree to cooperate on beef trade
Phytosanitary agents in Paraguay and Uruguay have signed an agreement to strengthen and facilitate bilateral trade in beef. In addition, the agreement will allow for greater cooperation between both countries’ phytosanitary authorities.
For more information, see “Paraguay y Uruguay Cooperarán para Exportación de Carne,” December 14, 2018,

Peru joins China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative
Following participation in China’s Import Expo in November 2018, the government of Peru has announced that it will join China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative. Other countries in Latin America that have joined this initiative include Chile, Panama, Bolivia, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. Peru is one of China’s largest trading partners in Latin America.
For more information, see “Perú Se Unirá Pronto a Iniciativa Ruta de la Seda de China,” November 11, 2018,

Peru and the United Kingdom sign agreement to strengthen customs cooperation
The National Superintendence of Customs and Tax Administration of Peru (SUNAT) and the Border Force of the United Kingdom have signed a agreement for cooperation and mutual assistance on customs controls. The agreement also calls for greater information and experience sharing between the two countries.
For more information, see “Perú y Reino Unido Suscriben Acuerdos para Fortalecer Cooperación Aduanera,” November 14, 2018,

Peru and Japan sign agreement on transport cooperation
Peru’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism signed an agreement on trade infrastructure cooperation. The memorandum of cooperation addresses air, land, and maritime transport, as well as other types of infrastructure and assessments of urban transport. It is expected that the agreement will lead to more Japanese investment in Peru’s trade infrastructure.
For more information, see, “Perú y Japón Suscriben Acuerdo de Cooperación en Transporte,” November 17, 2018,

Peru and Switzerland sign agreement to increase competitiveness
The Ministry of Economics and Finance of Peru announced that it has signed an agreement with Switzerland to help increase Peru’s economic competitiveness and productivity. This agreement will allow for the advancement to the second step of the program SeCompetitivo. This program will allow small and medium-sized companies greater access to the international market. In turn, this will also benefit the development of international value chains.
For more information, see “Perú y Suiza Suscriben Segundo Acuerdo de Cooperación para Mejorar Competitividad,” November 26, 2018,

Peru to build international airport in Cuzco
The government of Peru has announced its intention to build an international airport in Chinchero, in the province of Cuzco. The province of Cuzco is a highly transited area because of the Macchu Picchu ruins, which are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Latin America. The new airport will allow international cargo to reach this remote location.
For more information, see “Perú Construirá Aeropuerto Internacional en Cusco,” December 1, 2018,

Peru signs customs cooperation agreements with Belgium and India
The National Superintendence of Customs and Tax Administration of Peru (SUNAT) has signed customs cooperation agreements with customs authorities of Belgium and India in order to facilitate trade and commercial exchanges with those countries. The agreements were signed at the 80th session of the political commission of the World Customs Organization (WCO).
For more information, see “Sunat Suscribe Acuerdos de Cooperación Aduanera con Bélgica e India,” December 5, 2018,

Peru bans production, import, distribution, shipping, commercialization, and use of certain types of plastic products
The ban applies to plastic bags greater than 900 cm in diameter, plastic straws, and bags that generate microplastic pollution and are non-degradable. The ban is to be implemented 12 months after the law goes into effect.
For more information, see “Aprueban Ley Que Regulará el Uso de Plásticos en el Perú,” December 6, 2018,

Suriname joins World Customs Organization (WCO)
On November 26, 2018, Suriname deposited its accession instrument to the Convention Establishing a Customs Co-operation Council. It is now the WCO’s newest member.
For more information, see “The WCO Welcomes Suriname as New Member,” December 5, 2018,

Uruguay bans imports of animals from Colombia
The government of Uruguay has announced a blanket ban on all animal imports from Colombia due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Colombia’s cattle population.
For more information, see “Publicaron en Gaceta la Suspensión de Importación de animales desde Colombia,” November 2, 2018,

Uruguay and Dominican Republic sign economic agreement
The governments of Uruguay and the Dominican Republic have signed a memorandum of understanding on trade promotion and investment.
For more information, see “República Dominicana y Uruguay Firman Acuerdos Económicos y Migratorios,” November 12, 2018,

Uruguayan government approves building of railroad leading to Port of Montevideo
The government of Uruguay has approved the construction of a railroad that will reach the Port of Montevideo. This initiative will help connect domestic producers with the international port and lower transport costs.
For more information, see “Uruguay: Tribunal de Cuentas Aprueba Construcción de Ferrocarril Que Llegará al Puerto de Montevideo,” November 27, 2018,

Government of Uruguay provides Foreign Trade Single Window (VUCE) platform to Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic customs authorities can use and modify the software. The platform is expected to help facilitate trade and lower logistics costs in the Dominican Republic.
For more information, see “Aduanas Recibe Plataforma VUCE de Uruguay,” December 2, 2018,

Uruguay will export meat to Japan
Following an 18-year ban on Uruguayan meat imports to Japan, the Japanese government has agreed to open its market. The Japanese government will send technicians to inspect Uruguayan meat plants in order to begin providing phytosanitary certificates to Uruguayan producers.
For more information, see “Luego de 18 Años, Japón Habilitó la Importación de Carne Uruguaya,” December 3, 2018,

Uruguay updates customs agreement with China
The government of Uruguay is working on updating trade agreements with China in order to gain greater access to the Chinese market. In the last few years, China has become one of the largest markets for a variety of Uruguayan products, including meat and soy.
For more information, see “Uruguay Actualiza Acuerdos Aduaneros para Mejorar el Acceso al Mercado Chino,” December 4, 2018,

Venezuela and Turkey sign agreement for trade cooperation
The presidents of Venezuela and Turkey signed an agreement to further trade ties. In addition, the government of Turkey has agreed to provide Venezuela with food and hygiene products. In exchange, Venezuela has provided Turkey with gold to facilitate trade.
For more information, see “Presidente de Turquía Llega a Venezuela para Firmar Acuerdos con Maduro,” December 3, 2018,