Brazil backs Chinese candidate in FAO election

The director-general elected will serve for four years

Published in 21/06/2019 - 19:01 By Agência Brasil - Brasília

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will meet in Rome on Sunday (Jun 23) to elect the director-general to lead the institution for the next four years. Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply Tereza Cristina is in Rome, where the conference will be held.

On Friday (21), Tereza Cristina met with China’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu. The minister restated its support for Chinese candidate Qu Dongyu, vice-minister of Agriculture, and pledged to work to convince undecided countries.

“You can only win an election after the last vote is counted. We’ll work together,” the Brazilian minister said.

A ministra da Agricultura, Tereza Cristina, participa da abertura do Ethanol Summit, no Centro Fecomercio de Eventos, em São Paulo.
Agriculture minister Tereza Cristina. - Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil

Minister Han Changfu asked Brazil for advice and support, especially in winning votes from Latin America and the G7 (Germany, Canada, US, France, Italy, Japan, and the UK). Han Changfu noted that Brazil has vast experience in international elections, and named two victories by José Graziano da Silva (2012–2015 and 2015–2019), whose second term of office ends in July.

“We’ll be hand in hand and promote our candidate together. I’m asking my FAO ambassador to talk to and work with Brazil’s ambassador,” the Chinese minister said.

Tereza Cristina stressed that the FAO election deepens cooperation ties between the two nations. In her view, Brazil and China have numerous topics to discuss as part of their agricultural agenda, adding, however, that they must now focus on “our [FAO] candidate.”

In May, the minister conducted the mission in China on increasing the number of Brazilian meatpackers licensed to sell meat to the Asian country.

In Han Changfu’s view, Brazil is a strategic partner. He urged the Brazilian minister to come back to China to further boost business in the sector.

The entourage is formed by Ambassador Orlando Leite Ribeiro, secretary for Commerce and International Relations; Brazil’s FAO Ambassador Fernando Abreu; and special adviser Francisco Basílio.

FAO election

On Sunday (23), FAO members will elect the new director-general for the next four years, from August 1, 2019, to July 31, 2013. Since 2012, the post has been occupied by Brazilian José Graziano da Silva, elected twice. The winner is the candidate who manages to garner 50 percent plus one vote in any round of vote.

Thee candidates are on the run: Qu Dongyu, China’s vice-minister of Agriculture since 2015; Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, former director of the Department of Economic and Environmental Performance with the Ministry of Agriculture of France; and David Kirvalidze, who served as Georgia’s minister of Agriculture twice.

Qu Dongyu is supported by the governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. He argues that FAO’s policies are brought in line with the 2013 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, especially the eradication of hunger and poverty, with the sustainable increase of agricultural and food production and the promotion of international trade in agriculture free of misconceptions and scientifically unfounded restrictions.

The French candidate was chosen by the countries in the European Union. To her judgment, FAO should be used as a tool to eradicate hunger and world poverty in collaboration with other organizations, like the World Health Organization (WHO).

David Kirvalidze, from Georgia, has the support of the US. He has developed research in the areas of environmental protection, ecology, and agribusiness. He stood by the production sector when he served in his country’s Parliament.

Since 1945, FAO has had eight directors-general.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: José Romildo

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