U.N.: Latin America and China form food alliance

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U.N.: Latin America and China form food alliance

Latin America, the Caribbean and China will form a strategic alliance to encourage food security and agricultural development, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.Foods

Efforts will include the establishment food reserves and a collaborative effort toward research and development. Agricultural ministers from the participating regions are scheduled to meet for their first forum in Beijing on June 8 and 9.

The alliance will build a bilateral food reserve of 500,000 tons to prepare for times of need and humanitarian aid. It will also develop a special US$50 million fund that will establish five to eight research and development centers in China.

The agreement has been in the works since the June 2012 meeting for the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), when China's then Prime Minister Wen Jiabao suggested the proposal.

Gustavo Rojas of Chile's Ministry of Agriculture emphasized the importance of involving all Latin American and Caribbean countries in the alliance.

"Chile sees tremendous development opportunity both in the region and in China, and a symbiosis in terms of trade, cooperation and technological development," Rojas said.

The FAO regional representative in Chile, Raúl Benítez, said the alliance between the regions was natural given the key roles each play in food production and commerce, as well as food security.

"The Republic of China is the country that has rescued more people from hunger, while Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the greatest advances toward reducing hunger levels in the last 20 years," Benítez said.

Latin America accounts for 27% of food imports from China, reaching US$22 billion in value, according to the FAO. In total, Chinese agriculture produces an aggregate value of over US$659 billion.

At the moment, however, Chinese exports to Latin America are concentrated in Brazil in Argentina, which receive over 90% of agricultural shipments. Part of this agreement would seek to diversify trade.

Photo: Keith Weller, USDA ARS


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