Trinidad concludes ‘misunderstanding’ led to return of Guyanese milk products


See below the full statement issued by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago:


The Ministry of Trade and Industry has noted the on-going issue relating to the  Trade in Milk Products between Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. Based on a  review of this matter, the following salient points are noteworthy:

(1) There is no prohibition on the importation of Animal Products into  Trinidad and Tobago from any CARICOM Member State including  Guyana. However, for these products to be exported to Trinidad and  Tobago, countries must be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Land  and Fisheries (MALF). This is a one-time approval associated with first time exports;

(2) Trinidad and Tobago like every country within CARICOM and the rest of  the world follows the generally accepted international standards under  the auspices of the World Organisation for Animal Health for the trade  in Animal Products. These standards which are meant to ensure the  health and safety of consumers are operationalised within domestic law  via the Animal (Diseases and Importation) Act;

(3) The existing standard for the importation of milk into Trinidad and  Tobago (which is identical in Guyana) requires all importers to apply for  an import permit from the Animal Production and Health Division  (MALF). This application must be made in advance of the products  arriving in Trinidad and Tobago and even before items are purchased  from overseas exporters;

(4) In order for an Import Permit to be issued for ‘first-time’ imports of milk  from any country, a Risk Analysis is required to be undertaken by the  Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO). This information was communicated to  the Local Importer by the CVO on Friday 19 April 2024 which was the  same date an application was submitted on TTBizlinK for an animal  permit;

(5) On Monday 22 April 2024 a consignment of goods which included (i)  Milk; (ii) Mineral Waters; and Flavoured Beverages landed in Trinidad  and Tobago. Upon arrival in Trinidad and Tobago, the Mineral Waters  and Favoured Beverage items were cleared and sent to the premises of  the Importer by the Chemistry Food and Drugs Division (CFDD) on the  condition that the Importer produces a Free Sale Certificate/Animal  Health Permit; and

(6) With respect to the Milk Items, the Importer took the decision to return  these products to the Exporter in Guyana as it did not possess the  requisite regulatory documentation.

In order to resolve this matter, Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon,  Minister of Trade and Industry and Mr. Randall Karim, Permanent Secretary  (Ag.) met with representatives of the Guyana Private Sector Commission  (GPSC) led by its Chairman Mr. Komal Singh at the Office of the GPSC. Also in  attendance were senior representatives of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL).  Minister Gopee-scoon shared with the representatives of the Guyana private  sector the specific facts and timelines associated with the importation of  products from DDL. Following the Minister’s explanation, all Parties agreed that  the genesis of the matter arose out of a misunderstanding by the importer of  the specific regulatory requirements for the importation of these products into  Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister Gopee-Scoon gave the commitment to DDL that upon receipt of the  relevant information, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago would  expeditiously process the regulatory requirements for DDL. Mr. Komal  Samaroo, Chairman of DDL expressed his profound thanks to Minister Gopee

Scoon for the manner in which the matter will be addressed and indicated that  his company will work with the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago to resolve  the matter.

Minister Gopee-Scoon also assured the representatives of the Guyana private  sector that Trinidad and Tobago was fully committed improved intra-regional

CARICOM trade and remained open to increased imports from Guyana and  other CARICOM Members. In order to facilitate increased trade and proactively  resolve trade disputes between the both countries, it was agreed that a  mechanism in the form of a bilateral committee comprising representatives of  the public and private sector from both countries would be soon established.

On conclusion of the meeting, all Parties agreed that the discussions were  extremely fruitful and agreed to work in a collaborative manner to strengthen  CARICOM trade.

Minister Gopee-Scoon was in Guyana Chairing the Fifty-Eighth Meeting of the  Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) which concluded  earlier today 15 May 2024.

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