Guyana and Trinidad working to address trade issues

Export of honey to TT remains a problem
THOUGH a commitment was made by Trinidad and Tobago more than one year ago to remove swiftly, restrictions to commodities emanating out of Guyana such as honey, the trade issues between Guyana and the Twin Island Republic remain almost the same. However, Guyana’s Foreign Secretary, Carl Greenidge, said technical experts from both sides are working to address the trade issues between the two countries.
Greenidge, on the margins of the just-concluded United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, met with Trinidad’s Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, Dennis Moses, and discussed the trade-related matters.

The export of certain agricultural products remains an issue, Greenidge said. “A number of products, which emanate from Guyana, have not been able to gain entry (into Trinidad and Tobago) on circumstances that seem to be different from circumstances faced by other exporters into Trinidad and Tobago,” the foreign secretary said in response to a question posed by the Guyana Chronicle at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

He noted that the issues surrounding the exportation of honey to Trinidad and Tobago are even more complex. “Honey is perhaps for reasons that are not altogether clear, is in a different category from the others, at least, politically. So I don’t know where that one is going,” Greenidge told this newspaper.

Last September, during a State visit to Guyana by Trinidad’s Prime Minister, Keith Rowley, and his Ministers of Government, the Trinidadian Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat, said plans were in the works for the island to remove restrictions on importation of honey from Grenada, Guyana and possibly other Caribbean countries.

The non-conformity of Trinidad and Tobago’s legislation governing the importation of honey has been a long-standing issue raised even at the 36th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2013. Trinidad and Tobago’s honey, bees and bee products are guided by the island’s age-old Food and Drug Act of 1960 and Beekeeping and Bee products Act of 1935. Both of these, however, are not in keeping with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) as highlighted by COTED and has led to the total prohibition of honey from other countries to the island.

During a technical meeting of the experts on September 13, 2019, Trinidad said the trans-shipment of honey remains high on its agenda. “Trinidad and Tobago reiterated the seriousness of this issue and indicated that the shipment of honey has attracted the attention of the Honourable Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament, all of which are active deliberations, within an update to be provided at the next meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), scheduled for November 2019,” the Trinidadian experts had explained.
Guyana’s Foreign Secretary told reporters that the meeting of the technical experts, which saw discussions on issues related to the export of agricultural produce from Guyana to Trinidad and Tobago, was held ahead of the meeting in the US with the foreign affairs minister.
The senior officials having discussed the market access challenges related to the export of food and agricultural produce from Guyana to Trinidad reinforced the importance of bilateral trade in agricultural products to the two countries. They also made note of the challenges that could emerge due to poor communication and as such, reaffirmed their willingness to undertake dialogue on the challenges being faced.

Among the issues addressed during that meeting was the removal of crowns from pineapples. “It was agreed that changes to Import Permit requirements for all crops should be communicated by Trinidad and Tobago in a timely manner in keeping with International Standards,” a statement on the meeting read.

Guyana is expected to provide the measure of equivalence and process flow, and Trinidad, thereafter, is expected to consider the removal of the crowns of pineapples in line with Codex Standard for Pineapple 182-1993 (Rev. 1-1999) which allows for either removal or non-removal of crowns. Guyana has expressed concern with microbial decay and faster product deterioration associated with crown removal.

“The channel of communication will occur through the IPPC contact points; NAREI for Guyana (Mr. Brian Sears) and for Trinidad, Ms. Diane Ramroop and copied to PS. Sukhdeo. Ms. Ramroop will provide an acknowledgment of receipt within one week and following review of Guyana’s measure of equivalence and process flow, Trinidad will provide a technical response not exceeding three months. This will be the channel of communication for all matters related to PRAs,” the technical experts explained. The same was agreed in principle as with pineapples.

On the issue of fumigation requirements, Guyana is required to send a Diplomatic Note requesting written confirmation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago that methyl bromide is no longer required for QPS on crops exported from Guyana. According to reports, an alternative, Epoclorous, has been identified.
Additionally, Trinidad will review Guyana’s PRA for Eddoes and will provide communication on the rationale for the modalities for use of hypochlorous acid on eddoes.

Guyana will also be providing cases to Trinidad to support its arguments that its items have been denied importation. “Guyana to submit to the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago, examples of cases of denials of entry at the border on grounds related to inconsistent interpretation of import permits. Trinidad to make cases known to its Trade Facilitation Committee and address issues related to standard operating procedures (SOPs), system of communication with customs authorities, validation of permit issues and redress for denials,” the teams explained.

One such recent issue was that of the ban imposed on the importation of poultry meat from Guyana. In justifying its action, Trinidad said the decision was taken in light of the Duck Hepatitis and other Poultry Related Diseases such as IBV- Infectious Bronchitis Virus.

Sourced from Guyana Chronicle (3-10-2019)

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