Cooperators and government officials from Mercosur countries met online on 18 October to discuss how to deepen intercooperation between their states.
The special meeting was convened by the cooperative sector and the Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil, which currently holds the presidency of the South American trade bloc.
It was attended by ICA President Ariel Guarco, who also presides over Cooperar, the national apex for cooperatives in Argentina. During the opening session he was joined by the President of Argentina’s Institute for Social Economy (INAES), Alex Roig; the head of the Organization of Cooperatives of Brazil (OCB), Marcio Lopes de Freitas; the president of Cooperatives of the Americas, Graciela Fernández; and the president of the National Institute of Cooperatives of Paraguay, Pedro Löblien.
Other speakers included César Halum, National Secretary of Family Agriculture and Cooperation, Brazil; Elbio Martín Fernández, President of the National Institute of Cooperatives of Uruguay; Ieva Lazareviciute, Project Director at PNUD, Brasil; Caio Rocha, Coordinador of IICA MERCOSUR; and Danilo Salerno, Regional Director, ACI-Américas.
“Mercosur is a magnificent tool to promote exchanges that generate more development opportunities for everyone and lead to a better quality of life for those who live on different sides of the border. There are many fields in which to continue sowing the seeds of intercooperation at the regional level. Health, work, agri-food production and the creation and management of new technologies are, among others, issues that we can tackle together,” said Mr Guarco.
Cooperatives had the ability to practice diplomacy beyond borders, he added, and were important actors in fostering intergovernmental collaboration and fair exchanges between different regions.
Mr Guarco said the Mercosur meeting played an important role in encouraging "cross-border policies, with an inter-cooperative spirit”.
He concluded: “The world that we want and that we envision for the coming decades is a world without walls. For this reason, our challenge is to continue building bridges and promoting a model of solidarity: inclusive, fair and democratic development in each country, in each region and throughout the planet.”
Cooperative leaders from Mercosur countries had also met in June in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they discussed the sector’s role in driving economic development in their countries. Read more on that meeting here: Cooperators discuss the sector’s contribution to the economies of Mercosur countries