Agriculture ministers from various South American countries participated in a video conference on Monday, March 23, to discuss harmonization of standards and ensure the smooth flow of goods and food supplies throughout the region during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our alignment at the highest political level is indispensable, which should also be reflected in agile and clear instructions for the operational plan, especially for the frontline – the border authorities”, argued Brazilian minister Tereza Cristina.
Ministers Luis Eugenio Basterra (Argentina), Antonio Walker Preito (Chile), Rodolfo Max Friedmann Alfaro (Paraguay), Carlos Maria Uriarte (Uruguay), Jorge Luis Montenegro Chavesta (Peru) and Beatriz Eliane Capobiano Sandoval (Bolivia) participated in the virtual meeting with Tereza Cristina (Brazil), in addition to representatives of the Brazilian Ministries of Infrastructure and Foreign Affairs.
Under the coordination of the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS), ministerial forum for consultation and coordination of regional actions, and currently under the temporary presidency of Chile, a document will be prepared with protocols to guarantee the free flow of road cargo transport between countries ( including Colombia). The ministers decided to create a communication channel via WhatsApp to exchange information more quickly about any problems that may occur.
All ministers stated that despite the closure of road borders for passengers from other countries, there are no restrictions on agricultural cargo. “We need to anticipate what may happen, in case the situation gets worse,” said Tereza Cristina, noting that maintaining healthy channels is not only to guarantee exports by each country, but also local supply.
To measure the impact that regional trade has on food supply, the minister recalled that Brazil exported about US$3.7 billion in agricultural products to South American neighbors in 2019, and imported US$5.8 billion from them.