Transporting food a key focus as production ‘extremely hot’ topic at CARICOM

0

There have been increasing talks on upping the production and trade of food within the Caribbean region but transporting the food from one country to another is an additional challenge that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is seeking to tackle.

This was highlighted by the CARICOM Secretary- General Dr. Carla Barnett, during a virtual end of year press conference held on Tuesday.

Then, Dr. Barnett acknowledged that some governments have spoken out about the intra-regional trade challenges that exist on a policy-level.

Guyana, for example, has been very vocal on the existence of non-tariff barriers such as quotas, embargoes, sanctions and levies and affects some exports to CARICOM markets.

According to the Secretary-General, the trade of agricultural commodities is a topic that is “extremely hot on the table” because of regional efforts to increase food security. And, she reminded journalists that CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) deals with the removal of those trade barriers.

Dr. Barnett, however, noted, “The issues faced there are not only in trade barriers but also basic transportation.”

CARICOM Secretary- General Dr. Carla Barnett (Photo: CARICOM Today)

To this end, she said that work is being done to integrate the private sector into the regional plans to boost agriculture- specifically on investing in transportation so that agricultural produce can be taken from country to country.

The Secretary-General also said that a wider or more comprehensive plan from the private sector is expected to be presented to CARICOM soon. This plan will inform the body on how private investments can be facilitated to boost food production and transportation overall.

The issue of intra-regional trade barriers has been a central focus of successive leaders of some CARICOM countries, particularly since the region’s food import bill, for example, is around US $5 billion (or GY $1 trillion).

Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali is the Lead Head of Government in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet with responsibility for Agriculture. Through his portfolio, the President has been advocating for a fairer regional trading system, geared at removing barriers limiting the trade of Guyanese products across the region.

Addressing the massive import bill, Dr. Barnett emphasised that food production has been made a high priority at the CARICOM level.  And, she hopes that Guyana will continue its advocacy on advancing the regional food security agenda.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.