Australia - Mercosur Leadership Forum 2019

Australia - Mercosur Leadership Forum 2019

The Australian Studies Centre (ASC) is hosting an Australia Mercosur Leadership Forum to engage high profile representatives from the private sector, the public sector and academia from the four member countries of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and counterparts from Australia. The forums are sponsored by the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR).

Date: 05/31/2019

The timing of the Forum coincides with the significant strengthening of bilateral relations between Australia and Latin America over the past five years. It also follows the commitment of Mercosur countries to engage more actively beyond their traditional partners.

Program: The Forum will consist of four sessions corresponding to the four main areas of study identified by the ASC as lending themselves to closer cooperation and collaboration, namely:

  • Agriculture
  • Sustainable development
  • Biotechnology

It will explore a specific topic under each area of study, the challenges they face, and how the private and public sectors and academia can contribute to their medium and long-term development. It will also provide opportunities for networking between participants and sectors from both regions on each topic.

The Forum will be held over two days with the first day being open to the public. On Day 1 presenters and participants will take stock of the current status of each topic in Australia and Mercosur, major challenges, and available options to meet those challenges.

On Day 2 participants will discuss and prepare in closed sessions a report summarizing the main findings of the discussions and a roadmap for future action. There will be no more than five presenters for each theme (ie.15-20 in total).



The Forum will take place at the Australian Studies Centre, located in the School of Management and Social Sciences at Universidad ORT Uruguay (Bulevar España 2633, Montevideo, Uruguay) on 24-26 June 2019.



For any question regarding the Forum please contact Dr. Nicolás Gambetta, ASC Executive Board Member (



FORUM 1: Financing sustainable development: the role of the public and private sectors


Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN General Assembly in 2015, is a complex challenge.

It cannot be achieved via one approach alone but requires significant funding from a variety of sources.

The ability of governments to mobilise, redistribute and make effective use of a wide variety of funding sources, instruments and strategies is essential if the ambitious objectives of the sustainable development agenda are to be achieved.

The legal context, foreseeable socioeconomic and environmental impacts and any restrictions that might limit or impede the viability of the financing mechanisms selected must all be taken into consideration.

In any financing strategy, the complementarities and limited scope for substitution between public and private resources for development must be recognized. Both in Uruguay and in other emerging economies, the private financial sector must develop adequate financial instruments to finance the SDGs, in parallel with public actions in this field, in terms of regulation, budget and monitoring.

The Forum will discuss how governments align their budget to incorporate and achieve the SDGs, and the role the public sector plays to inform and align the private sector to achieve them.

Keynote speakers:

  • Brett Hackett, Australian Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay
  • Prof. Paul Pickering, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University, Australia
  • A/Prof. Colin Higgings, Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Australia
  • Luis Di Pietro, Director/Coordinador Proyecto ODS, Presidencia de la Nación, Argentina
  • Mariella de Aurrecoechea; Socia, Deloitte; Vice-Presidente, DERES
  • Mireia Villar, Coordinadora Residente de las Naciones Unidas
  • Ec. Ana Laura García, Directora de Gestión Estratégica y Formulación Presupuestal, Oficina de Planeamiento y Presupuesto (OPP), Uruguay


FORUM 2: Medicinal cannabis: the main challenges ahead


The cannabis industry is a growing industry worldwide, but it is currently facing significant challenges.

In many countries public understanding, let alone public consensus is lacking. In others the legislative requirements of third countries (eg. rules prohibiting banks from working with money obtained from cannabis) constrain entrepreneurs from opening a bank account in their countries.

In yet others regulators (usually Health Ministries) do not have an appropriate framework in place to regulate the industry.

A major political impediment is the lack of scientific evidence to inform the development of safety regulations, including traceability and medical protocols. There is also an imperative in many countries for more research to improve the genetics of cannabis and to develop new products.

Uruguay legalized the production and sale of cannabis in 2013 and provides an obvious experience from which to draw on lessons learned, including the social, legal and scientific impacts.

Keynote speakers:

  • Brett Hackett, Australian Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay
  • Prof. Paul Pickering, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University, Australia
  • Prof. Christopher Grof, Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence (ACRE)
  • Kevin Nafte, Cámara Uruguay de Cannabis Medicinal
  • Marcos Baudean, Resarcher, Monitor Cannabis Uy, Universidad ORT Uruguay
  • Leticia Cuñeti, Sociedad Uruguaya de Endocannabinología
  • Diego Olivera, President, Instituto de Regulación y Control de Cannabis (IRCCA)


FORUM 3: Public goods in the meat industry: Australia as a benchmark


Sectoral public goods are a factor of value added in a supply chain, contributing to increase productivity and competitiveness on its different stages, to improve the capacity of doing business and selling products both in the domestic and international markets, and to provide security to end-customers.

The main public goods of the meat supply chain, for example in Uruguay, are animal health, individual traceability of livestock, food safety, and commercial intelligence.

After a period of analysis and assessment of the Ministry of Agriculture (MGAP) and the National Meat Institute (INAC) of Uruguay, Australia has been identified as a benchmark, both because the similarities on the structural aspects of the meat supply chain, and because of the status of their public goods in this industry.

As a result, Uruguay has started a process of joint work with public and private stakeholders of the Australian meat supply chain to enhance the effectiveness of managing sectoral public goods in Uruguay drawing on the Australian model.

The Forum will enable stakeholders from Uruguay and Australia to identify needs and consider the relevance of Australia’s experience in this regard and the process by which it was achieved.

Keynote speakers:

  • Prof. Paul Pickering, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University, Australia
  • Prof. Wendy Umberger, University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Ian Mortimer, Agricultural Counsellor, Department of Agriculture and Water Resource, Australia
  • Daniel Belerati, President, Cámara de la Industria Frigorífica, Uruguay
  • Patricio Silveira, Cámara Paraguaya de la Carne, Paraguay
  • Federico Stanham, Presidente, Instituto Nacional de Carnes (INAC), Uruguay
ASC’s main objectives

ASC’s main objectives

  • To organize conferences, seminars and roundtables about Australian current issues and their relationship with the region.

  • To promote overseas study and student exchange programs.

  • To promote academic cooperation with Australian universities, in particular faculty exchange programs and activities in support of the Uruguayan postgraduate system.

  • To develop courses on Australian history, politics, international relations, economics, business, society, education, culture, literature, sustainability and environmental topics.

  • To develop comparative research projects between Australia and the region.