Export Impact For Good

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  •     WTO: Trade Facilitation

    An experience of integration in MERCOSUR's agricultural private sector

    Daniela Alfaro - Economist, specialist in international trade. National Coordinator of the ICI Programm, Montevideo-Uruguay. dalfaro@iecon.ccee.edu.uy

    The dynamic and complexity of the negotiations on the one hand, and international trade together with the necessity of strengthening the capacity of MERCOSUR's private agricultural sector to take the lead in the technical and strategic discussions of the international insertion of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay on another, lead to the elaboration of a Program of work, als
    o called "Support of the process of liberalization and integration in international trade".

    The program is developed by the main MERCOSUR1 associations of businesses of the agricultural sector, representing the main agricultural exporting sectors of the bloc (among others; meat, dairies, cereals, oil-producing products, citrus), and is counting on the support of BID/FOMIN.

    The main objective of the Regional Business Program is to promote the interest of MERCOSUR's agricultural private sector in the technical and strategic aspects related to trade, through the elaboration of working methods and integrated studies that provide for the development, in a professional manner, of a lobby below the level of the respective governments, The main content of the regional meetings consists in analyses and technical propositions to establish an effective mechanism of regional coordination.

    The functioning is described in details in the following diagram:

    The program operates at the national and regional levels. At the national level, technical propositions are raised to the respective governments for the different negotiation forums (WTO, UE-MERCOSUR, bilateral agreements, and for MERCOSUR itself), as well as for the aspects of trade that have an effect on economic relations with other countries (questions of production of bio-combustibles, technical obstacles to trade, sanitarian and phyto-sanitarian measures, among others). At the regional level, in the event that the private sector already has institutions or coalitions that contribute to the development of regional activities, the Program supplies it with technical inputs and systematic specialized support to improve work management. In any case, the Program generates specific propositions that are submitted to governments and/or transmitted to the media.

    The Regional Coordination is composed of the National Coordinators of each country, with the support of BID/FOMIN specialists. For its part, each National Coordinator refers to the Executive National Board, composed of the Directors of the different associations, and has the task of coordinating the technical work performed by the National Coordination Unit, itself composed of multidisciplinary professionals that use international data bases and technical works provided by renown international organisms, such as the ITC. This technical activity is reinforced with the undertaking of independent consulting.

    So far, eighteen months of work have lead to the creation of the following: two documents formulating a common position agreed upon by 46 business associations of MERCOSUR and related to the agricultural negotiations in the WTO Doha round; a professional course on negotiations and trade taught to 75 journalists from MERCOSUR; the launching of a regional newsletter; and exchanges of knowledge and techniques between the different institutions involved. These activities have taken place alongside every country's own extensive working agenda.

    This experience allows for the development of analytical capacities for the public and private sectors in the area of trade, and increases the number of instances for dialog between governments and business associations.

    Following all the outstanding lessons learned, one must emphasize the necessity of the business associations discussing in depth the working agenda and the use of a consensus for its approval.

    1SRA, CIL, CRA and INAI for Argentina; ICONE (ABAG, ABEF, ABIEC, UNICA, FIESP e IRGA) for Brazil; CAPECO for Paraguay; and Programa ICI (ARU, CIU y CMPP) for Uruguay