Introduction to CAMIC
The success of a trade agreement depends on the formation of compatible policies, programs, and regulations that facilitate the integration of markets in a manner that minimizes friction among the participating countries and provides for the welfare of the general population. This requires a mutual recognition and understanding of the institutions (governmental systems, policies, programs, regulations) and conditions (economic and social) that exist in each member country. Achieving this understanding is best accomplished in a leadership forum that allows for the open and objective discussion of topics of common interest—including options for dealing with important issues—while minimizing the potential for political grandstanding and empty rhetoric. The main annual activity of CAMIC is the Agrifood Market Integration Workshop for leaders from industry, government, civil society, and the research community of the CAFTA-DR countries. Invited participants in this forum will openly discuss and learn of the opportunities and challenges that an open market economy provides for its communities.
Emphasis in three annual workshops will be placed on the steps needed to achieve of market integration in the agrifood industries, meaning that product flows among the CAFTA-DR countries are on the same terms and conditions as within individual countries. Achievement of market integration requires that the policies, programs and regulations of the participating countries be compatible (policy integration). In the process, barriers to commercial interaction among countries may need to be adjusted and removed (economic integration). The bottom line is to expand trade and encourage agricultural and rural development to the benefit of all CAFTA-DR countries and their people.
It is recognized that social, economic and political differences exist among the CAFTA-DR countries. These differences represent both a challenge and an opportunity for expanded trade within the bloc. Opportunities arise from the different competitive advantages of each country. The challenges include:
- Adopting technologies and business practices proven effective in the region.
Developing agrifood supply chains that mesh with those used in potential markets within and outside the CAFTA-DR countries.
- Developing more uniformly open and market-oriented trade and agricultural policies.
- Creating a higher level of understanding of the regional benefits of freer trade.
- Making the transition from the current nationalistic agrifood economies to a regional economy with policies that are harmonized or compatible.
- Making these adjustments in a socially civilized economic environment that preserves the culture and heritage of the CAFTA-DR countries for the benefit of all their people.
CAMIC’s overall objective is to develop and share information that fosters discussion and greater understanding of market integration issues concerning the agrifood sectors of the seven CAFTA-DR countries. Specific objectives include:
- Defining, identifying and evaluating policies that could advance agrifood market integration.
- Improving understanding of the resources, social and economic conditions, and comparative economic advantages of each CAFTA-DR country.
- Evaluating the impacts and interactions of country policies, programs, and regulations on agrifood market integration.
- Creating mutual understanding of needed adjustments in policies, programs, and regulations to facilitate agrifood trade and market integration.
- Fostering research on agrifood market integration relevant to the region.
The CAMIC Planning Committee is responsible for designing the program of each CAMIC Workshop. To facilitate dialogue and discussion, the Forum will be limited to seven invited delegates selected by the Planning Committee from each CAFTA-DR country. Five base papers will provide the grist for discussion, and most of the base papers will be written by experts from the region, although in some instances persons from outside the region may be selected as authors. Certain delegates will be invited to be discussants of the base papers or may otherwise be asked to contribute their knowledge, views and perspectives to the workshop. The members of the Planning Committee have decided on the issues to be addressed, potential authors for the base papers, and discussants. To facilitate communication, understanding, and discussion, simultaneous translation will be provided at the workshops. The CAMIC learning experience does not end with the workshops. Spanish and English versions of the base papers and an executive summary of each workshop’s papers, discussion, and conclusions will be available on the Internet. A printed copy of the Executive Summary will be generally available for distribution by the participants and sponsors.
Sponsors of the CAMIC workshop series include: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Economic Research Service (ERS), and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS); CADEXCO CR, and the Farm Foundation, a catalyst foundation supporting for agricultural education. These organizations provide the financial support for CAMIC, its workshops, the CAMIC Internet website, and its Executive Summary publication.
Arrangements for the Forum are coordinated by Drs. Ron Knutson and Luis Ribera, who are faculty of the Agriculture and Food Policy Center (AFPC), in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. Dr. Knutson has previously coordinated highly successful workshops of this type for the NAFTA bloc.
The following program, authors, and discussants were developed by the CAMIC Planning Committee, which included the following distinguished regional leaders from government, industry, and the research community:
- Sergio Navas – Executive Vice-president, Exporters Association CADEXCO, Costa Rica.
- Luis R. Rodríguez – Undersecretary for Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Dominican Republic.
Bernardo López – Minister of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Guatemala.
- Medardo Galindo – General Manager, Agro-exporters Federation, Honduras.
Jorge Brenes – General Manager, APEN, Nicaragua.
- Amy Angel – Natural Resources Manager, FUSADES, El Salvador.
- James G. Butler – General Sub-Director, IICA
- Yvette Wedderburn – FAS, USDA, U.S.