ModeratorFernando González, Professor of International Trade and Investment Law at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) in Mexico City.
For centuries, Mayan communities in Southern Mexico have produced natural chewing gum using a resin obtained from a rainforest tree called Chicozapote. Unfortunately, this natural product was consistently displaced from the markets by significantly less-costly synthetic products. In 1993, 6 indigenous cooperatives hired an expert to come up with a new formula based on their traditional resin. Today, more than 2000 local farmers export millions of units of this 100% biodegradable chewing gum to Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. As a result, the living conditions of local farmers – who for centuries had suffered severe marginalization – have significantly improved. We would like to identify the key factors that explain the success of the Chicza Rainforest project, including the ability of SMEs to reach international markets. Thus, we will discuss how trade rules such as those contained in the TBT, SPS, TRIPS and other WTO agreements may block or propel the objectives of these inclusive projects.