CARICOM SG underscores importance of progressively reducing trade barriers

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Removal of barriers to trade in agriculture within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is currently prioritised as Member States move to increase food security.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett, told representatives of the media on Tuesday that the removal of trade barriers was an issue that was “extremely hot on the table” and which the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) was addressing.

“It’s an issue that is always hot on the table, and it is extremely hot on the table right now because of the calls for increasing food security and therefore the increased production of agricultural commodities, particularly by those states that are seen to have greater potential – meaning the coastal states like Belize, like Guyana, like Suriname – we would like to see those countries produce more food and have that exported within the Region to other countries,” Dr. Barnett said in response to a question at a press conference she hosted on 14 December.

The Secretary-General noted that transportation was at high priority. She pointed to Community objectives of greater sharing of resources and increased productivity which required that “barriers among ourselves are progressively removed, and the possibility for transportation of commodities produced within the Region also needs to be improved.”

Recently, President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali – who is the lead head of Government with responsibility for Agriculture in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet – spoke of the trade barriers which he said had “kept back the food production system”.

“We cannot move forward reasonably as a people; we cannot move forward reasonably as a collective if we are not willing to act in a selfless manner.  The opportunities will slip by… I have the barriers by country, I have the impediments to trade by country for exports and imports and some of this is nonsensical. Some of these barriers that are imposed can be withdrawn overnight if you are serious about building capacity and opening up opportunities,” President Ali said as he addressed the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association President’s Dinner and Award Ceremony.

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