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A look at Latin trade associations – Brazil, Guatemala, Ecuador

Brazil: Moving Forward
What began as a private group of 24 pioneering growers in Brazil, who wanted to promote product overseas and defend their business interests at home, has grown into an organization of 64 companies, cooperatives, and regional growers called Abrafrutas, representing nearly 80 percent of the country’s fruit exports.

“Growers represent 70 percent of our member base,” said Jorge de Souza who, in addition to serving as the group’s technical and project director, is a banana grower in the state of Minas Gerais. “However, we realized that we would be much more effective by adding other critical sectors of the fresh fruit chain to our organization.”

So Abrafrutas invited traders, logistics companies, and even some packaging material suppliers to join who now represent about 30 percent of the membership. As de Souza puts it: “To move forward, you can’t be isolated, and have to consider the need to integrate sectors and work as a team.”

One of the programs de Souza likes to highlight is the group’s Frutas do Brasil Festival, which focuses on promoting a wide range of Brazilian fruit to customers and distributors. It includes cooking demonstrations and tastings led by renowned chefs to showcase the vast and varied uses for fruit.

Abrafrutas
Jorge de Souza, Technical and Project Manager
Phone: (55) 61-2109-1625
Website: www.abrafrutas.org
Email: jorge.souza@frutasdobrasil.org
Address: SGAN Quadra 601, Módulo K – Térreo – Asa Norte Brasília/DF, Brazil 70830-021
Trade Shows/conferences: Fruit Logistica, Fruit Attraction, PMA Fresh Connections, FFA, APAS Fair, Frutas do Brasil Festival

Ecuador: A Growing Presence
Exports are at the heart of PRO ECUADOR’s mission to promote the country’s products and encourage foreign trade. Founded in 2009, PRO ECUADOR is a government entity, part of the Vice Ministry of Promotion of Exports and Investments, which works in partnership with the private sector.

With 7 national offices and 31 throughout the world, the group boasts a broad membership base of entrepreneurs, exporters, growers, and other associations.

“Our main goals are increasing our exports in markets in which we already have a presence as well as introducing products to new markets,” said José Cabascango, who serves as trade commissioner of Ecuador in Chicago and reports directly to the Vice Minister, or head of PRO ECUADOR. “The export landscape is always growing and expanding as new, innovative services and products are developed.”

PRO ECUADOR
José Luis Cabascango, Trade Commissioner of Ecuador in Chicago
Phone: 312 624-9760
Website: www.proecuador.gob.ec
Email: jcabascango@produccion.gob.ec
Address: 875 N Michigan Avenue, Suite 1320, Chicago, IL 60611

Guatemala: A Solid Footing
Representing a variety of business interests, including growers and exporters, to governments at home and in the United States is something AmCham Guatemala has been doing since 1967, when it was founded by a group of business leaders interested in promoting and developing investment and trade between Guatemala and the United States.

On the face of it, AmCham is essentially a chamber of commerce with about 500 active members, both resident and nonresident, and with no specific ties to the produce industry. The group is tasked with numerous missions that include everything from keeping up with the latest technology in Silicon Valley to participating in a variety of events and conferences on policy, economics, and foreign investment.

Perhaps more importantly, it is a leading advocate for, and facilitator of, commercial relationships between the United States and Guatemala—and this means plenty, given that Guatemala is now the third-largest exporter of fruit to the United States.

“We represent large, medium-sized, and small businesses in various sectors such as industry, trade, service, and agribusiness,” said Waleska Sterkel, AmCham’s executive director. “Our membership in the agricultural sector is small and mainly comprised of importers, exporters, and distributors.”

AmCham Guatemala
Waleska Sterkel, Executive Director
Phone: (502) 2417-0800
Website: www.amchamguate.com
Email: wsterkel@amchamguatemala.com
Address: 5a Avenida 5-55, zona 14 Edificio Europlaza WBC Torre 1, Nivel 5 Oficina 502, Ciudad Guatemala, Guatemala 01014
Trade Shows/conferences: Alimentaria, CEO Summit, Business Future of the Americas.

This is a multi-part series from Produce Blueprints, in which we explore the role of trade associations in global commerce.