'Ditch individualism', urges Chilean fruit chief

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'Ditch individualism', urges Chilean fruit chief

Chilean growers, exporters and importers were urged by Fedefruta president Antonio Walker to ditch 'individualism' and work together to improve the effectiveness of the sector.

Speaking at the industry's annual FRUITTRADE networking event, he called on some 1,200 delegates to promote public-private alliances to improve competitiveness over the next 30 years.

(Left to right) Pablo Longueira, Antonio Walker, José Antonio Galilea and Luis Mayol

"We cannot do things individually, we must compete country against country rather than against individual companies. We have to improve our connections for direct exports, lower the chain of costs and invest in research and development," urged Walker.

He stressed the need to embrace a holistic approach to developing the sector with agreements for better productivity and commerical operations.

"Our president, Sebastián Piñera, is aware of and respects the tremendous importance our sector has in terms of generating jobs," said Walker, referring to an earlier meeting that addressed issues of labor laws in terms of flexibility and working conditions.

He called on Minister for the Economy Pablo Longueira  to increase Chile's agricultural budget with the goal of promoting worldwide exports, particularly in Asia and South America. Walker said these markets offered "great opportunities" to raise prices and diversify the options available for growers.

"South America is a huge market, they are our neighbors, its our natural market and it also has a logistical advantage."

He added that the Far East offered great opportunities for Chile too, and that this market should be entered with produce of superior quality.

Ministers promise new export markets

At the event, Longueira pledged to help the sector by lowering energy costs and making the country's transport system more competitive. He added  the government was keen to help open up new markets.

"We have to work on our image abroad. Part of the role of the Chilean government is to promote the exporter. We need to devote more resources in this area to improve our image and support exporters," he said.

He added that the government needed to strengthen export partnerships with other countries such as Mexico.

Agriculture Minister José Antonio Galilea echoed the comments of his colleague Longueira, saying that although the U.S. was still the main importer of Chilean produce it was important to focus on new markets like Asia.

"We have to take advantage of the free trade agreements we have and we have to protect them in terms of health protocols," he said.

He added that he was proud to see how important Chilean produce, such as blueberries and avocados, were in the Chinese and South Korean market.

"This is the consequence of good planned work taking into consideration the quality of what we produce," said Galilea.


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