Local agro-processors to engage Antiguan buyers  

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Between 40 to 50 small agro-processors are expected to travel to Antigua soon to engage buyers, Vice President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Ramsay Ali has told the News Room.

During a recent interview, Ali said that discussions are being held to have these local agro-processors travel sometime in October or November and efforts will be made to have them display their products so as to woo potential buyers.

Ali said that plans are being made to have an ‘Uncapped Marketplace’ exhibition held outside of Georgetown before the end of the year while there will be further discussions for it to be hosted overseas.

“In the first quarter of next year, we are hoping to do the something in the eastern sea border of the United States, [because] we believe the kind of products that they [the small businesses] have are well received,” Ali told the News Room.

The decision follows the return of over 45 Guyanese businesses that participated in the highly successful Agro Fest- the National Agricultural Exhibition last month in Barbados.

Ali said the GMSA is confident that the products will be well received based on the relationship formed during Agro-Fest.

The idea is to introduce the services to Antigua where many Guyanese have migrated to and further, to the diaspora. He said this will ease the hassle of importing items.

Ali said that tariff barriers make it significantly difficult for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to trade among themselves. He explained that he “had to jump through hoops” for about three years before he could export ice cream to Barbados.

Local businesses continue to lament the trade challenges that exist when they attempt to export goods to some states like Trinidad and Tobago. These include non-tariff barriers such as quotas, embargoes, sanctions and levies and affect some exports to CARICOM markets.

These challenges have constrained the realisation of CARICOM’s free trade agreement- the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

This issue was highly ventilated during Guyana’s recent hosting of the regional agri-investment forum, organised by the Guyanese Head of State, Dr Irfaan Ali, who has the lead role on agriculture in CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet.

The forum was meant to garner investments, political will and support needed to boost food security efforts in the region.

It is part of initiatives touted by Guyana’s President Ali to help CARICOM cut its hefty food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. That food import bill has more than US $4 billion annually and is rapidly increasing because of ongoing price surges.

At the end of the forum, CARICOM Heads agreed to an action timeline and proposals to remove trade barriers.

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