San Jose, 06 June, 2019 (IICA). Business leaders from Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru attended a meeting in Bogotá, convened by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to promote joint efforts to take advantage of trade opportunities and exchange information relevant to their productive activities. During the meeting, the business leaders backed a proposal for the creation of a Forum of Ministers of Agriculture of the Pacific Region, as a potentially valuable mechanism for boosting trade.
In the meeting, conceived by IICA as a regional agricultural dialogue, business leaders of the agricultural and agrifood sectors emphasized the importance of continuous interaction with the public sector to ensure better access to international markets for their production. In light of the current global situation, they considered it essential to consolidate and complement each other’s commercial offerings and diversify the region’s export markets.
“This is a great opportunity to strengthen our ties, to get to know each other, to learn from what others are doing, to discuss problems, to share opportunities and benefits and to build trust. IICA performs the role of facilitator of these meetings, ‘connecting the dots’ to strengthen those ties and think about strategic topics. For Colombia, the Pacific region has always been important, with its challenges and positive aspects. There are certain sensitive issues, which governments will have the task of administering”, said Jorge Bedoya, president of the Colombian Farmers’ Society (SAC).
During the meeting, Gustavo Rojas, adviser to the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, discussed the proposal to create the Forum of Ministers of Agriculture of the Pacific Basin, emphasizing the opportunities offered to the private sector by other regional mechanisms whose technical secretariat is IICA, such as the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS) or the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC).
Juan Pablo Matte, Secretary General of the National Agriculture Society (SNA) of Chile, praised IICA’s initiative, explaining that it would foster “strong links with our Pacific Alliance counterparts” in Latin America in order to “strive for complementarity in our countries’ trade offerings.”
Matte added that the proposed regional forum of ministers “is important for the private sector, which knows about the existing opportunities and threats, but it is the countries that must be capable of generating agreements. Ministers are transient, they are passing through, but we in the private sector are permanent and it is very important to involve the ministers in this effort so that they can fully commit to addressing our needs.”
The Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero, gave a presentation outlining the importance that IICA attaches to strategic partnerships with the private sector, in the context of its internal transformation process.
According to Otero, the business leaders “discussed the steps leading to the creation of a forum of ministers of the Pacific Basin countries, and expressed a very strong desire to support this initiative, and even to begin by establishing a forum within the private sector, in order to move forward as a bloc on topics such as agricultural health, good practices and, essentially, market access.”
Bosco de la Vega, president of the National Agriculture Council of Mexico, also stressed the importance of “IICA’s role as a bridge between governments and the private sector” and emphasized that “meetings, such as the event in Bogotá, serve to strengthen the decision makers.” He added that in the specific case of Mexico, it was essential to diversify the country’s export markets, which are currently concentrated in the United States, and it would therefore be crucial to strengthen ties with the rest of Latin America and explore the Asia-Pacific region.
Also present at the meeting was Moisés Leiva, manager of Chilealimentos, the Chilean Food Industry Association, with 75 member organizations. “We must rise to the challenge, we must move quickly, and we must focus on the consumers, who demand healthy, delicious and safe foods.” He added that “agroindustry requires a regulatory framework that will enable it to obtain benefits through sustainable good practices. These forums are necessary and they will strengthen us,” he concluded.
Institutional Communication Division