Achieving an increase in trade between Latin American countries is one of the keys to fight against food insecurity in the region, told EFE the secretary general of the Latin American Integration Association (aladi), the Uruguayan Sergio Abreu.

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine caused a loss of 40,000,000 jobs in micro, small, and medium-sized companies in Latin America, a «worrying» situation that requires challenges to be faced to achieve real, incorporated integration.

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For this reason, Abreu stresses the importance of increasing the intraregional trade and that countries improve the infrastructure to be able to carry out in a more efficient way.

«he road transport, fluvial transport, waterways and rail transportAll of that is cost. A truck that takes three days adds a price that drives a good product out of the market. All of this is what countries have to continue working on,» she points out.

In addition, the person who was chancellor of Uruguay between 1993 and 1995 maintains that the negotiations between the countries that make up Aladi represent 11% of their exports, while internal trade between European nations is 60%.

Fight against food insecurity

For Abreu, the social inclusion it is «the first thing» that must be faced and for this he stresses the importance of recovering trade to achieve «real and concrete» integration. «We have to take on a challenge.

The first is normative convergence. What does that mean? That today the tariffs, the taxes of a good that enters and leaves a country, are no longer as important as the regulations. Countries defend themselves by imposing sanitary and non-sanitary restrictions.

A whole host of regulations, which are protections that are obviously carried out by the largest countries and are also carried out in the region itself”, he explains.

In this sense, he stresses that the system must be «dismantled» so that there are no obstacles in the agri-food chain, in the food basket and so that «bureaucratic spaces» do not have to be faced.

Poverty, hunger and state abandonment make slums a time bomb for the spread of Covid-19.

Likewise, ensure that political will, reading the international reality and the correct use of the instruments available are other keys to fight against food insecurity.

Along the same lines, Martín Piñeiro, director of the Agrarian Affairs Committee of the Argentine Council of International Relations, told EFE that food insecurity is combated with «economic development, income distribution and social programs.»

«In times of crisis, social programs are central,» he points out, adding that the best solution is to «improve everyone’s income» so that they have the ability to buy food. At the same time, Piñeiro indicates that the inflation that affects the region is «a problem» and says that there must be a de-escalation in order to improve the situation.

Achieving an increase in trade between Latin American countries is one of the keys to combating food insecurity in the region

Digitization instead of paper

Abreu emphasizes the importance of digital transformation and says that the aladi is working in that direction. At this moment, he said, Aladi is developing a platform called digital «SMEs Large Businesses«, aimed exclusively at micro, small and medium-sized companies, which in the region are more than 10,000,000.

This regional body works in the trade facilitation by replacing paper with digital to speed up processes in a world in which «what used to be done in two years now has to be done in ten days».

Finally, Abreu emphasizes that for Aladi the mission is «to try to meet the most vulnerable» and give them «a bicycle» so that they can march forward. It is the people, the countries that decide, but we put the bicycle and the round wheel on them and that is the enthusiasm that one has every day.

The wheel is rounder, now the important thing is how long or how much they want to ride the bike», he concludes. Abreu and Piñeiro met in the framework of the «Public Dialogue» meeting. Aladi al día», which was held in Montevideo and promoted by this organization so that experts in various fields promote improvements to the regional trade system.

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