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Jaime Bustamante with Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation

“We help produce companies solve disputes, both nationally and internationally”

When the sale or purchase of fresh produce doesn’t go according to plan, the Canada-based Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) is able to act as a referee between parties. The non-profit organization is member-based, focusing on private commercial dispute resolution--think mediating disagreements over produce purchases and sales. This may range from disputes over product quality or condition at destination to payment issues occurring between members internationally and domestically.

The DRC was established in 2000 as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)to support trade within the region. The organization is made up of a board of directors and members representing all areas of the produce industry. In addition to dispute resolution, DRC staff works closely with industry associations and governments to reform legislation, make federal inspections more accessible, develop best practices and level the playing field for participants. Collectively, its mandate is to provide a full suite of dispute resolution services including education, mediation--, arbitration, and networking.

Members are located across the globe
The DRC’s jurisdiction is limited to transactions where domestic, imported or exported product enters commerce in North America. However, eligibility-wise, anyone who grows, buys, sells, brokers, or provides transportation services for produce can become a member.

“Membership is open to all firms who conduct business in a country that is a signatory to an internationally recognized arbitration convention, such as the New York Convention,” says Jaime Bustamante, Director of Trading Assistance with DRC. As a result, the organization has many members outside North America.

In Canada, any person who buys, sells, imports or exports fresh fruits and vegetables to Canada must be a member of the DRC. For companies located outside of Canada, a DRC membership is not required. “If you are selling fresh fruits or vegetables to a company in Canada, the United States or Mexico, to have access to dispute resolution services you must be a DRC member at the time the dispute arose. If a problem arises and there was no active membership at the time of the transaction, recourse will be a lengthy and expensive court process,” Bustamante commented.

A DRC membership, what’s in it for members? Minimizing risk and losses are the main benefits thanks to the education the DRC offers (such as customized seminars and webinars) along with common trading standards and timely dispute resolution. In fact, the organization recommends before doing business with a new company, contact the DRC to determine if there’s any more information to help make a fully informed decision. That said, the DRC does note that most disputes that do arise are resolved informally with the help of its Trading Assistance Staff and don’t head down the path to formal arbitration.

For more information:
Jaime Bustamante
Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation
Tel: +1 -613-234-0982, ext. 224

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