(10 June 2013) Speaking at the first China-Latin American and the Caribbean Forum of Ministers of Agriculture, which ended on 9 June in Beijing, China, Antonio Prado, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), stated "In the agricultural sector, there are real complementarities between China and Latin America and the Caribbean that can be used to build a strategic trade, technology and cultural relationship with mutual benefits".
In his address to officials attending the Forum, Mr. Prado underlined the need to achieve more balanced trade relations between China and the region, and to base trade on agricultural innovation, while respecting the environment and social inclusion.
According to the senior official, the newly launched Forum of Ministers of Agriculture is a highly relevant mechanism to promote constructive dialogue concerning agricultural trade and economy; and agricultural innovation, science and technology (which are two main pillars of cooperation).
The creation of the Forum was proposed by former Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, in his message to the region during a visit to ECLAC on 26 June 2012.
Mr. Prado was particularly appreciative of the intention to create a food reserve mechanism to tackle emergencies and protect food security, proposals to strengthen research capacity, joint activities in trade promotion and facilitation, as well as the discussion of policies relevant to agriculture, the strengthening of human resources and the exchange of experts.
Mr. Prado, who was accompanied by the Head of the Commission's Agricultural Development Unit within the Division of Production, Productivity and Management, Adrián Rodríguez, went on to say "At ECLAC we are committed to promoting and encouraging the development of relations between the peoples of China and Latin America and the Caribbean".
He said this commitment is reflected in the Commission's participation in six China-Latin America Business Summits, the first Forum of exchange between Chinese and Latin American think tanks and in various Chinese and Latin American initiatives on trade, investment and development reviewing the region's ties with China.
The senior official also cited the publication of various studies on the subject in recent years, including the Mandarin version of a special issue of the CEPAL Review, launched in October 2012.
Mr. Prado declared that "the doors of ECLAC are always open for facilitating documented analysis, dialogue and the quest for practical forums for cooperation, with mutual and balanced benefits".
He concluded "If the region successfully reaches shared positions on the link with China and East Asia, it will be making important steps in improving its ties with the world's most economically buoyant area but also advancing in its own process of regional integration".
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