Ecuador hopes to persuade the US to eliminate tariffs on exports of roses
Meanwhile Colombia’s Supreme Court investigates the cases of the country's Agriculture Minister for alleged corruption with coronavirus emergency funds

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Agroberichten, the newletter of the network of Dutch agricultural counsellors around the world, reports that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit Latin America and the Caribbean at a very weak moment. Ecuador would be the second most affected country in the region, only behind Mexico. The economy is anticipated to plummet by -6.3% in 2020, far beyond expected contractions in Colombia (-2.4%) and Peru (-4.5%).

Colombia’s flowers exports during the Mother’s Day season fell by as much as 40%. Under normal circumstances the country would expect to export more than 600 million stems. However, restrictions on movement to contain the coronavirus pandemic have disrupted the critical Mother’s Day season with exporters reporting a drop in orders from abroad between 30% and 40% less than a year ago. Thus, exports estimations for this season surrounded by COVID-19 could not exceed 360 million stems. In spite of this, around 30,000 orchids were commercialised in the domestic market, according to Colviveros.

After the Prosecutor General’s Office opened 1,204 investigations, Colombia’s Supreme Court will investigate the cases of Agriculture Minister Rodolfo Zea and 11 governors for alleged corruption with coronavirus emergency funds.

In Peru, despite the disruption, food prices have largely remained stable. This can be attributed to efforts to maintain supply chains, as well as clear communication from government figures. Notably, minister of agriculture and irrigation and Lima’s mayor intervened to avoid price speculation by personally overseeing deliveries at Lima’s wholesale food market.

E-commerce has experienced sharp growth, especially in terms of the delivery of essential supplies such as food. Although figures for April are not yet publicly available, projections from the Lima Chamber of Commerce suggest online sales will have grown by 50% relative to March.

Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism stated in an interview on April 27th that food exports are expected to maintain a substantial rhythm throughout 2020.

In an attempt to keep export levels stable, Ecuador’s Ministry of Production has issued over 8,000 certificates of origin for Ecuadorian exports to the EU, Russia and Latin American countries. Coordination is taking place with Colombia to ensure the flow of goods through the border and guarantee exports worth USD 500 million.

Transport volume limits, regular logistic routes and delivery schedules are being relaxed in an attempt to provide greater flexibility during the emergency. At the same time, the export of 24 vital products (mostly medicines and equipment) has been restricted to ensure national availability. Similarly, a 0% tariff rate is being applied for medical products required for the pandemic.

Ecuadorian roses could arrive in the United States without tariffs at the end of the year, according to Ecuadorian Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries. For the flower sector, strongly affected by the health emergency of COVID-19, this would mean a step towards the uprising of the industry. According to data from the guild, the flower sector generates 40,000 direct jobs, and at least 55,000 indirect ones.