The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) today called on the government and producers to engage in dialogue to define a long-term policy for the sector, one day after there were riots in a demonstration against imports.
A protest on Tuesday by producers against imports ended in clashes with anti-riots contingents, an altercation that the government attributed to infiltrators from political opposition sectors.
The CCIAP, which brings together more than 1,800 companies from 15 economic sectors of Panama, said on Wednesday in a public statement that "it calls on both the National Government and the producers of the country to seek all the resources so that the dialogue between the parties prevail and let settle a long-term vision of the agricultural sector".
The Chamber made it clear that in its opinion the situation of producers' crisis "lies in the lack of implementation of State policies", but stressed that "violence brings more violence and does not build anything positive".
"We ask both the authorities and the producers to remain at the dialogue table to find the necessary solutions that lay the foundations for the development of the agricultural sector and that these go beyond administrations", the CCIAP reiterated.
The business union noted that "the special characteristics of the Panamanian economy impose the need to harmonize the relationship between the different productive sectors, in this case the agricultural and the importer, so that they converge in the finding of the solutions that require the problems of general interest".
"Thus, it is completely inappropriate to authorize the importation of items in coincident form with their harvest cycles in the country (...) in the same way, it is necessary the technification of the sector to be able to present competitively to the needs of other consumer sectors", valued the Business Chamber.
The CCIAP highlighted the transcendental value for the Panamanian economy of the agricultural sector "by the number of jobs it represents" and "by the export capacity it has".
In the last year the claims of the producers have been constant for what they consider massive and indiscriminate imports of agricultural and livestock products, which has led them on several occasions to manifest themselves in the street.
The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, has personally held talks with representatives of the producers after which agreements had been announced to improve the conditions of the sector, one of the most depressed in the country with a weight of less than 3 percent in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).