Upgrading China-Latin America Agro-Industrial Relations


The Inter-American Dialogue, CAF — Development Bank of Latin America, and Grupo de Países Productores del Sur (GPS) were pleased to co-host a day-long forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 25, 2019 to consider the various factors likely to shape China-Latin America agro-industrial relations in the years to come, including key policy and demographic developments in China and shifts in the international trade architecture. Over the course of the day, participants discussed current and potential region-wide and international efforts to upgrade agricultural ties to China, and sought to identify any “best practices” applicable to the Latin American context. 



9:00AM – 9:15AM: WELCOME

José Martins, Buenos Aires Grains Exchange
Martin Piñeiro, Grupo de Paises Productores del Sur
Margaret Myers, Inter-American Dialogue
Santiago Rojas, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America


Santiago del Solar Dorrego, Secretariat of Agroindustry, Ministry of Production and Labor, Argentina

9:30AM – 11:00AM: Session 1 – The factors shaping Chinese agro-industrial demand: Implications for Latin American producers

Lead-off speakers:
Marcos Jank, Asia-Brazil Agroalliance
Fred Gale, US Department of Agriculture
Yao Shunli, China Institute for Applied International Trade

Moderator: Santiago Rojas, CAF – Development Bank of Latin America

Chinese demand for Latin American agricultural goods has transformed productive landscapes in the region. This is especially true of Brazil and Argentina, where soy production has boomed alongside shifts in Chinese food consumption. What factors will shape Chinese demand for Latin American agriculture in the coming years? How will advances in Chinese agro-industrial productivity and R&D affect trade with region in the near and medium-term? In what ways are Chinese demographics expected to impact agro-industrial commerce? How will the external geopolitical environment affect China-Latin America agro-industrial relationship building? And to what extent is the Latin American region equipped to address expected shifts in Chinese demand?

11:00AM – 11:15AM: Coffee Break

11:15AM – 12:30PM: Session 2 – Understanding China’s overseas agro-industrial policy: What role for LAC?

Chinese agricultural trade and overseas agro-industrial investment have been closely linked to Beijng’s evolving food security objectives, but are also shaped by a wide variety of other factors, including local investment environments and global trade dynamics. How does China define food security at present, and what policies have been established, whether at home or governing outbound investment, to meet domestic demand for key agricultural goods? In what regions of the world are Chinese agroindustrial companies engaging most extensively, whether in support of Chinese policy or in pursuit of profit? How do China’s agro-industrial giants, such as COFCO and Beidahuang, factor into Beijing’s overseas agro-industrial policy-making, including in the Latin American context? In what ways will shifts in the global trade architecture or in China’s bilateral relations with Latin American nations affect prospects for agricultural cooperation?

Lead-off speakers:

Duncan Freeman, EU-China Research Centre
Holly Wang, Purdue University
Margaret Myers, Inter-American Dialogue

Moderator: Martin Piñeiro, Grupo de Paises Productores del Sur

12:30PM – 1:30PM: LUNCH

1:30PM – 3:00PM: Session 3 – Views from the region: Problems and prospects in bilateral agro-industrial relations

The agricultural relationship with China has been a critical one for many Latin American nations, with clear economic benefits, but officials from across the region have noted the value of further strengthening and upgrading agricultural ties. In what ways have Latin American governments sought to upgrade their agro-industrial relations with China? What particular progress has been made in attracting valuable Chinese investment to key agro-industrial sectors or regions in Latin America? What advances have been made in bilateral agricultural trade, including in terms of market access? Are successful approaches from elsewhere in the world replicable in the Latin American context? To what extent would a sub-regional agricultural policy toward China be plausible and/or effective? What obstacles remain to achieving increasingly balanced and productive bilateral agricultural relations with China?

Lead-off speakers:

Osvaldo Rosales, formerly CEPAL Chile
Washington Duran, Uruguay Chamber of Industries
Nelson Illescas, INAI Foundation
Juan Enrique Moya, formerly Chilean Foreign Office
Tatiana Palermo, former agricultural trade negotiator for Brazil

Moderator: Felix Peña, ICBC Foundation

3:00PM – 3:15PM: Coffee Break

3:15PM – 5:00PM: Session 4 – Best practices in agro-industrial relationship-building with China: Private sector perspectives

The Latin American private sector has been critical in building and shaping agro-industrial relations with China in recent years. What role are companies playing in building new and productive agro-industrial ties with China? What obstacles have Latin American and other firms encountered as China-Latin America agricultural cooperation expands?

Lead-off speakers:

Gustavo Idígoras, CIARA
Federico Trucco, Bioceres
Esteban Turic, Biogénesis, Argentina
Ciro Etchesortu, formerly Louis Dreyfus Company Argentina

Moderator: Marcelo Elizondo