In an interview for Veggies from Mexico, we had the opportunity to ask some questions to Mr. Jaime Bustamente Salazar, who is originally from Hermosillo Sonora and is currently the Director of Commercial Assistance in the organization Canada Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC).
Jaime shares with us his professional career, the importance of the Mexican fresh produce industry for the Canadian market, and the role and benefits for growers to be affiliated with an association like DRC that can help them in case of unjustified price adjustments, liquidation reports, non-payment situations, contracts, logistics, among others.
We invite you to read the complete interview below…
1. Could you share some of your professional background with us?
I studied International Commerce at the Universidad del Valle de México Campus Lomas Verdes in the State of Mexico. After graduating, I started working for DRC in 2002 promoting DRC services in Mexico. In 2005, DRC decided to consolidate its services from Ottawa, Ontario and then, I moved to Ottawa.
I started as a Commercial Advisory Officer helping to increase the number of DRC members in Mexico and South America, then as a commercial Assistance Manager, I focused on educating our members and the industry on the rules and regulations governing the industry, as well as assisting members in resolving commercial disputes through mediation and arbitration.
For the past two years, I have held the position of Director of Commercial Assistance which allows me to be more involved with the DRC Board of Directors and to remain involved in commercial assistance activities, including mediation and arbitration.
2. Can you tell us about the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC), what is your role and what are the services provided?
My role as Director of Commercial Assistance is to oversee that the mediation and arbitration processes are carried out according to our rules. To give seminars and webinars to members to better understand the rules and terms that apply to commercial transactions. Promote the services we offer such as:
– Private and confidential consultations to prevent and resolve commercial disputes related to unjustified price adjustments, settlement reports, non-payment situations, contracts, and logistics, among others.
– With a database of more than 1,700 companies, help identify potential customers for a better decision on how to work with them.
– Interpretation of quality inspections at destination.
– Expedited and affordable informal mediation, formal mediation, and arbitration services.
– Enforceable and binding arbitration decisions.
– Compliance desk that imposes disciplinary measures on members who do not comply with DRC rules of conduct or arbitration awards.
3. For you, how has it been to work for this important association?
Working for DRC has been a continuous learning process, and to date, I continue to encounter new situations that in 21 years of experience I had not encountered. Working for DRC has helped me understand the industry’s needs and holistically apply this experience in a dispute situation to use the rules, regulations, or standards that apply to commercial transactions to help resolve disputes. It is a great satisfaction to participate and see a negotiation or mediation result in an amicable agreement between the parties. Although the arbitration decisions issued by the DRC arbitrators are not always welcomed by the parties, in the end, a conclusion is reached which we hope has served as an educational tool to not identify, and not make, similar mistakes in the future.
4. How can Mexican growers access the services offered by DRC?
It is very simple. To become a member of DRC it is necessary to fill out a membership application and pay the annual fee to benefit from our services. The difficult part is deciding to join DRC as a preventive measure against future disputes. DRC only has jurisdiction over disputes that occur between DRC members. If one of the parties is not a member, we are limited in what we can do to help resolve that dispute.
5. What are the benefits of being part of DRC?
Apart from the services or benefits mentioned in one of the previous questions, DRC members receive:
– Trading rules and guidelines that apply by default in the absence of a written contract between member sellers and buyers. These rules and guidelines assist in fair trade between the parties as they establish the rights and obligations of the parties to a trade transaction by default.
– Commercial advice to those members who wish to resolve disputes with non-member customers who are covered under PACA or other jurisdictions.
– Access to our Solutions Blog where we are constantly posting important information for our members and case studies.
6. How important is Mexico’s agricultural industry for the fresh produce sector in Canada?
Mexico’s agricultural industry is an important industry for the Canadian market. Due to climatic conditions, Canada is an importer of fresh fruits and vegetables for a large part of the year. Either directly from Mexican growers/exporters or indirectly through U.S. distributors, Mexican products such as tomatoes, peppers, berries, avocados, mangos, and other tropical fruits and vegetables are required and imported in considerable volumes by Canadian companies. From our point of view, apart from the food safety, social responsibility, and sustainability that is required from the industry, a part that should be considered more, and probably of great relevance, is to minimize the payment risk. This is where DRC becomes a very useful tool.
7. What is your perspective on fresh produce trade between Mexico, the United States, and Canada and what benefits/challenges does it bring to the industry?
I think that trade in fresh produce between our countries has advanced and has adapted considerably to the needs of the market, even when there have been difficult situations such as the pandemic.
Regardless of safety, social responsibility, and sustainability, good agricultural practices are required to achieve a better industry, a part that is left aside, because no one enters a transaction with the mentality that something bad can happen, and yet it should be considered as part of the policies of companies, especially in the collection, is to minimize the risk of not being able to collect an invoice or at least, its commercial value according to the market. That is why understanding how mechanisms such as the DRC or the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act PACA work can help to have more certainty in commercial transactions.
8. Anything else you would like to comment on?
I would like to add that the main objective of the DRC is to achieve that two parties who disagree on some point of the commercial transaction, is to identify where the problem was or where mistakes were made, to help the parties reach an amicable solution that then allows them to continue working with a clearer idea of how to avoid those problems but, if they arise again, they already have a precedent that would help them to solve the situation.