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CARICOM considers removing obstacles for free trade in produce

Radio Jamaica

CARICOM considers removing obstacles for free trade in produce

18 September 2009

CARICOM Agriculture Ministers have begun their latest meeting in Georgetown, Guyana and are seemingly no closer to removing stubborn obstacles to the free trade of produce.

Member nations have signed onto a single agriculture trading market but full implementation remains elusive.

Caricom Secretary General, Edwin Carrington urged Ministers to get their act together.

Jamaica complains that its patties are having a tough time in some CARICOM markets.

Guyana says its rice is being ignored in favour of cheaper subsidized imports from outside of the region.

These are some of the recent complaints over the free movement of agriculture products in CARICOM.

Jamaica was so incensed by the patty controversy that it warned of retaliatory action.

At issue was Trinidad and Tobago’s concerns about the health processed involved in the manufacture of the Jamaican product.

For critics this was just another barrier set up to stifle free trade.

If it isn’t tariff it is something else in this case what is called fight of sanitary measures, standards meant to ensure that produce is safe to eat.

One of the items before the ministers at Friday’s meeting is the establishment of a Caribbean agricultural health and food safety agency which Suriname has offered to host and which has been 10 years in the making.

This is intended to ensure that everybody follows the same health rules.

In his speech to ministers Secretary General Carrington made a plea for all trade barriers to be taken away.

"We must challenge ourselves to develop the necessary protocols that will truly facilitate trade in agricultural products while taking into account the need to secure plant and animal health and food safety. One must not be at the expense of another," he said.