Guyana included in study for inter-Caribbean shipping service to move agri products

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The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) announced on Wednesday that it will be financing the consultancy services for a study on the options available to establish a new shipping service across Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

This shipping service, the Bank said in a press release, focuses primarily on the movement of agricultural products.

This move comes as all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have committed to the Guyana-led goal of slashing costly regional food imports by 25 per cent by 2025.

Growing more food within the region and increasing intra-regional trade are viewed as crucial steps needed to slash the food import bill.

According to the CDB, Caribbean Heads of Government identified lack of adequate regional transportation as a major obstacle to the movement of agricultural products within the region and major contributor to food insecurity.

“Policymakers in CARICOM have established that intra-regional agricultural trade can balance food deficits and surpluses, contribute to price stability, and increase the diversity of food supply, all of which can achieve greater food and nutrition security for the Caribbean,” CDB’s Director of Projects, Daniel Best, was quoted as saying in the release.

He added, “CDB is aware that improving intra-regional trade in agriculture will require interventions across the ecosystem, however the provision of efficient and sustainable transportation to move agricultural goods will go a far way in achieving 25 by 25.”

The Project will explore options for addressing a range of factors affecting the conveyance of agricultural products by sea including management and operational systems, onshore facilities, food safety provisions, and customs and plant quarantine operations.

The main objective of the initiative is to identify opportunities for urgent improvement in maritime transportation capacity, recommend transportation modalities and provide solutions which utilise existing shipping assets.

A Technical Working Group will be established to provide oversight of the study, according to the CDB.

The body will include representatives from governments of the participating countries, the CARICOM Secretariat, the CARICOM Private Sector Organization, and the CDB.

Importantly, there have been discussions on the creation of a regional ferry network to counter the high costs of transporting people and cargo via air.

To facilitate this, Heads of Government would be required to examine the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (CARICOM’s central treaty) to cater the transport of people, vehicles and goods. That may also include reviewing key regulations at various ports of entry.

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