The longstanding inability of Guyana’s honey producers to use Trinidad and Tobago as a transshipment point for honey exports has once again been highlighted.
And the Director of External Trade at CARICOM’s Secretariat’s Directorate of the Caribbean Single Market and Trade, Dr. Chantal Ononaiwu, agrees that the delays are not desirable but told local private sector players that there are other ways of potentially resolving the issue.
“I can say very candidly, this is an issue that has preoccupied COTED itself.
“It is a matter that they have been deliberating because it is not desirable for matters to be one the agenda of the Council for extraordinary periods of time,” Dr. Ononaiwu said at a business breakfast held on Monday at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.
The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) is a ministerial body within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that oversees the operations of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
And the CSME falls under CARICOM’s central treaty, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. It is meant to promote the free movement of people, goods and services within the region.
Trinidad’s 1935 Beekeeping and Bee Products Act, which blocks the transshipment of honey originating outside the Windward and Leeward Islands, has been seen as a law which breaches the CSME.
Grenada took the honey issue to COTED in 2013 and the Council decided that Trinidad’s denial of market access was in violation of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. Then, Trinidad was directed to lift the prohibition on the import and transshipment of honey, based on reports.
Still, the problem exists.
In fact, at Monday’s business breakfast and at another business breakfast held on Saturday, private sector players continued to lament how much of a bugbear Trinidad’s law is.
Ramesh Dookhoo of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) said that the decades-old matter is not a complex one. He said it is simply a matter of amending Trinidadian laws.
Dr. Ononaiwu acknowledged the concerns raised but on Monday, told the private sector players gathered that there are other avenues to address the matter.
Taking the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), for example, is an option that exists. She also noted that the Good Offices process with the CARICOM Secretary General, arbitration and other engagements can all be used to resolve the honey issue and other matters.