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SAGARPA aggressively promoting Mexican food exports

ORLANDO, FL — Produce exports are critically important to Mexico, according to José Calzada, the country’s secretary of agriculture.

Calzada heads SAGARPA, which is the national secretariat for agriculture, ranching, rural development, fish and nutrition. In 2015, Mexico had $26.6 billion in agricultural exports. Of that, $22.9 billion were sales to the U.S. market.  

Calzada is working to build export sales not only to the United States but also to many other customers around the world.

On Oct. 15, at the PMA Fresh Summit, Calzada sat with The Produce News to discuss the development of this program.

Jose-Calzada-PMAJosé Calzada, Mexico’s secretary of agriculture, in SAGARPA’s booth at the PMA Fresh Summit.“I always tell the Mexicans that we have to move from volume to value,” he said. “We used to be concerned with traditional crops, but we are moving to more innovative, technologically advanced producing systems.”

The exports of fruits and vegetables has advanced a great deal “because we have good producers” who use innovation and technology. “We have got to stay on that path.”

Calzada is a strong supporter of the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which he describes as “a better NAFTA” because it involves more nations and more producers. Forty percent of the world’s gross domestic product is represented in the TPP discussions, he noted.

Calzada said Mexico and the United States “have a relationship that is very good,” noting that he works closely with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Two current matters under way are to admit shipments of avocados from the Mexican state of Jalisco and a deal with swine trade.

In early November, Calzada will lead a weeklong trade tour to Argentina and Chile “to look for what we can sell. We want an exchange of information.”

In mid-May, Calzada and Raúl Urteaga, SAGARPA’s general coordinator for international affairs, led 46 Mexican food exporters on a trade tour to the Arabic Peninsula. This involved meetings in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates Kuwait and Qatar. Among the Mexican products to catch a boost in export business from this trip were avocados, beef and honey, Calzada said.

Mexican food exports to Canada and China are established and “also, we have new markets in Europe, especially for fruits,” he said.

In 2014, Mexico exported agricultural products worth $2.5 million to the new Chinese market. That figure is expected to reach $100 million in five years, he said. Japan and South Korea are other key and growing export markets.

SAGARPA is hosting a major food export fair in Mexico City Dec. 8-10, 2016.