Mayor Randy Hope returned home tired but optimistic after the five-day APEC CEO’s Summit meetings in Lima, Peru.
The mayor and Michael Burton, Director of Investment Attraction and Government Relations for Chatham-Kent, attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at the behest of the APEC host committee.
That optimism led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the municipality and Peruvian officials to collaborate over the next five years to open new markets, develop product processing and global distribution for both C-K and Peruvian agricultural products.
CEOs from major global corporations attended the summit.
“We were the only municipality there,” Hope said. “It was by invitation.
He believed there were several reasons behind the invitation.
“Because we have a good reputation overseas working with groups and countries. I’ve been to a couple of APEC meetings in Toronto as well,” Hope said. “People are interested in what we do and the story we’ve got.”
He called the trip “productive. Like always, we’re trying to make major steps.”
Chatham-Kent drew the aforementioned interest from Peruvian officials in particular, with the focus on the agri-food industry.
“We began the initial steps in working closer on agricultural issues. At the APEC Summit, we had arrangements to meet with a group there,” he said.
Interest surrounded the Chatham-Kent Rural Agri-Food Technology Systems, something the municipality has been working on for three years, Hope said.
“They have similar ideas about technology and production. Things could be utilized in trade arrangements,” he said.
Chatham-Kent’s agricultural versatility impressed as well.
“They’re quite blown away by the agricultural capabilities in our region,” Hope said. “We grow more than 70 different products in our fields.”
Discussions also centred around fishing, Hope said.
“They talked about us having the world’s largest inland fishing industry,” he said. “They have issues with mercury there.”
Hope and Burton also met with an association of exporters – ADEX – which is a Peruvian agency in charge of providing services for importers and exporters in that country.
“We had a good stage in making our presentation,” Hope said. “They were quite impressed with the details.”
Hope said the summit was certainly an eye opener, as he met the prime minister of Peru, the president of New Zealand and “a number of business leaders you’d never think you’d be close enough to have business discussions with. There was an impressive calibre of people there.
“I was at an evening event and had more Peruvian officials come up and introduce themselves. It was quite open and quite refreshing,” he said.