Ali comments on Guyanese products being rejected by T&T customs

Ali comments on Guyanese products being rejected by T&T customs

President Mohamed Irfaan Ali Wednesday said the decision by Trinidad and Tobago to reject a shipment of milk and water from Guyana “does not help the agenda of all our regional leaders”.

On Tuesday, the Demerara Distillers Limited’s (DDL) said that its packaged milk and containers of bottled flavoured water had been placed under heavy scrutiny by Port of Spain in moves that are of “grave concern” to it.

Speaking at a news conference, DDL Chairman, Komal Samaroo, told reporters that these developments run counter to the free trade agreements in the region and diminish regional food security goals.

He said four 20-foot shipping containers with the products were shipped to Trinidad in March given that DDL had opted to export these products after working alongside a Trinidadian partner to determine the demand for the product there.

He said the products are worth an estimated US$130,000.

In a brief statement to the Caribbean News Desk (CND) Ali, who is also the chairman of the 15-member regional integration movement, said “we are now working in the region on dismantling trade barriers and dealing with these exact situations.

‘We are trying to integrate trade, expand our regional economies and create more opportunities for regional businesses, and this is a prime example of a scenario that does not help the 25 by 25 plan,” he said, adding “also it does not help the agenda of all our regional leaders”.

Trinidad and Tobago has not yet officially commented on the situation and its Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon, is in Guyana chairing the 58th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which is responsible for promoting trade in goods and services and sustainable regional economic development.

In a statement posted on the website of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Trinidad and Tobago, Gopee-Scoon wrote that her country’s participation in the COTED “is critical to ensuring national interests are reflected in regional policies and initiatives.

“Participation at the Ministerial level also exhibits the government’s commitment to the development of CARICOM and the regional integration movement,” she wrote.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in a statement issued here on Tuesday night, said that along with the Ministry of Agriculture, they have been aware of the incident as it relates to “non-acceptance of dairy products produced by one of the country’s largest producers of dairy products which was destined for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

“It is noted that under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) to which both Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana subscribe, requires free movement of goods and services under the regional integration framework.

“The refusal of entry to the dairy products wholly produced in Guyana by CARICOM member state is an affront to the spirit of Caribbean integration agenda and must not be accepted,” the ministry said in its statement.

The government said It is to be appreciated that regional products must satisfy the necessary sanitary and phytosanitary rules, the technical regulations as well as any product specific rules of origin required to qualify the products for regional preferential treatment.

“Available information indicates that the dairy products from Guyana destined into Trinidad and Tobago were in full compliance with these requirements,” it said, adding that “while some details about the transaction and what led to the incident are still being discussed, the Guyana Livestock Development Agency (GLDA) remains in close contact with its counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago, the exporter and the importer to resolve this matter within the shortest possible time.

“Guyana remains committed to ensuring that nationals who wish to exercise or take advantage of rights granted by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and other regional protocol under the integration agenda, are not unduly restricted.

“Guyana has opened its market to regional producers, it is expected that market access for products from Guyana into any CARICOM country is guaranteed for full benefits of regional integration to be realised,” the statement added.

  • PublishedMay 15, 2024

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