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A high-powered Mexican delegation has given Oamaru the tick of approval as an innovative business area with strong economic development opportunities.
Jalisco Secretary of Agriculture Alberto Esquer Gutierrez, Secretary of Innovation, Science and Technology Alfonso Pompa Padilla alongside representatives from the Mexican state and other organisations recently visited the area, where they were shown first-hand what it has to offer in terms of agriculture and related technology, and how the food and beverage industry linked with tourism.
Joining them was New Zealand Embassy agriculture counsellor Terry Meikle, from Oamaru and based in Mexico City, who said North Otago innovations impressed the party.
"In Oamaru, we took them down there because we wanted to show them some regional economic development. We wanted to show them some of the things that are happening in regards to the tourism trail and how the food and beverage industry can leverage off some of that."
Companies visited included animal handling/husbandry product manufacturer Te Pari Products and Whitestone Cheese.
"They were very impressed with some of the technology and innovation systems there," Mr Meikle said.
Like North Otago, Jalisco relies heavily on the agriculture sector and produces 25% of Mexico’s agriculture imports and exports.
Mr Meikle said the similarity between the two regions in opposite hemispheres was striking, and that North Otago was seen by the delegation as a leader in in its field.
He said the common challenges the two regions faced were access to water, climate change and extreme weather patterns. At a national level, plant and animal health, disease and security were concerns both countries shared.
Mr Meikle said areas such as North Otago were well-placed to take advantage of the free-trade agreement signed with Mexico, that had involved tariffs on some products being removed and others being phased out.
The delegation also took in Southern Field Days in Waimumu.