Demand for New Zealand know-how in Latin America
"We have four million people and the resources to feed forty million people, but as well as our food, what other countries want from New Zealand is our technology and know-how." According to AbacusBio Managing Director Dr Neville Jopson, that was the main message of a recent New Zealand agricultural trade mission to South America led by Prime Minister John Key.
In March, Neville was invited to travel with the Prime Minister’s agricultural trade mission to Latin America. Over 12 days and 15 flights, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Nathan Guy (Minister of Primary Industries), government officials, a business party representing around 20 agricultural businesses and a media contingent, worked their way through Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil.
In amongst the official events, guards of honour, state dinners and the like, Neville had the opportunity to meet people from research and farmer organisations in each of the four countries. In every case, it was obvious that New Zealand is revered as the world leader in efficient pastoral production and that they want to learn from our experience.
New Zealand does relatively little trade with these Latin American countries (our largest import from Mexico is tequila). But like Asia, their economies are growing rapidly and they have a large and growing middle class with disposable income wanting to consume good quality products.
New Zealand’s major export focus is on agricultural products, but importantly “wrapped around this”, says Neville, “is our agricultural and technical know-how. How we sell this is the challenge, “we want to create relationships and long term business opportunities, not just sell knowledge and leave”. “This is very important to AbacusBio as a company which is growing internationally” states Neville. “The connections we made with international representatives as well as other delegates on the trade mission were invaluable and we are currently following up promising leads”.