A delegation of Saudi agro-business entrepreneurs headed by the Agriculture minister (and member of the royal family) visited Uruguay with the purpose of establishing a fluid trade exchange and on the long term a strategic alliance.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said that inviting the Saudi delegation is part of a national strategy to diversify markets, particularly those that have purchasing power and a strategic need of what Uruguay produces.
“Our policy should be to sell to as many markets as possible and not concentrate on two or three large buyers. I think the Saudis and Uruguay have a natural strategic complementation and we are going to advance together in that direction”, said President Mujica.
However the president also pointed out that Saudi Arabia is not only oil (the world’s largest proven reserves), “they have diversified their economy and have a farm-supply and input industry which is very developed” and can help establish a strong trade link.
The delegation with minister Fahad Abdulrahman Bat Ghunaim and Uruguayan host Agriculture minister Tabare Aguerre on their first day visited dairy, sheep and beef farms plus a horse breeding ranch.
On the second day they made a tour of Nueva Palmira, Uruguay’s main export port for grains, oilseeds and pulp, and its logistics, and later in the day visited Barraca Erro an animal food and oil processing plant which is certified to export to Japan and the US.
Barraca Erro also provides the inputs (seeds, fertilizers, machinery and technical assistance) for the planting of thousands of hectares in farms in its area of influence.
“We have great expectations. We are showing the delegation Uruguay’s production and its potential, and that we have the capacity to supply them with the farm produce they need”, said Jorge Erro, head of Barraca Erro.
The delegation was also invited to Uruguay’s presidential ranch in Anchorena where President Mujica received them and finally there was a question and reply session with a counter delegation of Uruguayan businessmen related to agri-business.
Mario Piacenza head of International Affairs Department from the Ministry of Agriculture said that there’s great potential to develop trade, investments and technology. “They are well advanced in energy affairs, of which Uruguay has a deficit, and we are an efficient producer of food, that they need”.
Agriculture minister Aguerre underlined that Saudi Arabia as most Middle East Arab countries have a strategy of investing in food security and Uruguay has a long record of reliability, respect for contracts and plays by the rules.
“We know that the Arab block has a strategy to invest in natural resources and that is what we proposed last March when they arrived in Montevideo for the taking office ceremony of President Mujica” revealed Minister Aguerre.
“We have a long tradition as agro-exporting country, trusted, reliable, and predictable, that respects contracts and keeps to the rules. We would feel very proud if we could sell the work of our intelligence, innovation and commitment of Uruguayan workers and entrepreneurs”.