Comparing agricultural financing in Uruguay and New Zealand
In 2008, New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) was four times the size of Uruguay’s, and its export earnings were five times Uruguay’s. Nevertheless, agricultural products accounted for over 60% of export earnings for both economies. This highlighted the importance that the agricultural sectors of Uruguay and New Zealand had to their respective foreign trade sectors. The success with which both countries’ agricultural sectors solved their financial needs would be influential to their export sectors and overall economies. Through the use of expert interviews, a multiple-case study strategy was employed to carry out a comparative study of the agricultural financing systems of Uruguay and New Zealand. The findings revealed contrasting situations in both countries. Chief among them were the differences encountered in agricultural debt relative to agriculture’s contribution to total GDP in each country. In Uruguay this figure was 26% whereas in New Zealand it amounted to almost 400%. The differences found were largely attributable to the institutional frameworks in place in each country (i.e. the legal and cultural norms that structure political, social and economic interactions), as well as the historical contexts in which the institutions evolved. In Uruguay, the institutional framework limited producers’ possibilities of accessing bank credit due to restrictive central bank regulations. The lack of access to international credit markets by Uruguayan banks due to the country’s unfavourable credit risk rating was an additional factor which limited credit availability. These were largely a result of the financial crisis (and the subsequent recession) that had occurred in the region in 2002. Producers in Uruguay were able to access costlier seasonal capital and some medium-term capital from informal lenders such as cooperatives, processors and input suppliers. Nevertheless, if they required medium and long term credit, Uruguayan farmers needed to deal with the banking system. Furthermore, the high cost of registering mortgages, combined with long-term loan facilities that generally did not go for longer than ten years, resulted in a limited demand for high-volume, long-term credit on producers’ side. Almost the exact opposite situation was found in New Zealand. No great financial turmoil had affected New Zealand since the economic reforms of 1984, in which the economy in general was deregulated. An institutional framework which promoted access to credit, combined with a favourable country credit risk rating which promoted open access to overseas funding for banks, meant that the agricultural sector was able to expand its use of credit uninterruptedly since the early 1990s. Also, in contrast with the Uruguayan case, mortgaging of properties was relatively straightforward and inexpensive, and long term lending could be approved for terms of generally up to 20 years. These factors contributed to the expansion of rural credit in New Zealand. However, New Zealand’s agricultural debt was found to be greatly exposed to one subsector (the dairy farming sector). Moreover, the level of debt of New Zealand’s agricultural sector surpassed its contribution to GDP many times over, which raised doubts concerning the long-term sustainability of that level of debt.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsUruguay agriculture; New Zealand agriculture; agricultural credit; agricultural finance; institutions; institutional framework; agency theory
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