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Guyana blasts Trinidad over rejected milk shipment and bottled water

President Irfaan Ali said on Wednesday that Trinidad and Tobago’s decision to reject a shipment of milk and water from Guyana “does not advance the agenda of all our regional leaders.”

On Tuesday, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) said its packaged milk and containers of bottled flavored water had been placed under heavy surveillance by Port of Spain in actions of “serious concern” to it.

At a press conference, DDL Chairman Komal Samaroo told reporters that these developments violate the region’s free trade agreements and undermine regional food security goals.

He said four 20-foot shipping containers containing the products were shipped to Trinidad in March, as DDL had chosen to export these products after working with a Trinidadian partner to determine demand for the product there.

He said the products are worth an estimated $130,000.

In a brief statement to the Caribbean News Desk (CND), Ali, who is also chairman of the 15-member Regional Integration Movement, said: “We are now working in the region to dismantle trade barriers and address these exact situations.

“We are trying to integrate trade, expand our regional economies and create more opportunities for regional businesses and this is a good example of a scenario that the 25 by 25 plan does not help,” he said, adding: ‘It also doesn’t help the economy. agenda of all our regional leaders”.

Trinidad and Tobago has not yet officially responded to the situation and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon, is chairing in Guyana the 58th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), which is responsible for promoting trade in goods and services and sustainable regional economic development.

In a statement on the website of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Trinidad and Tobago, Gopee-Scoon wrote that her country’s participation in COTED “is ​​critical to ensuring that national interests are reflected in regional policies and initiatives.

“Participation at the ministerial level also demonstrates the government’s commitment to CARICOM’s development and the regional integration movement,” she wrote.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement issued here on Tuesday evening that it, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, is aware of the incident as it concerns “the non-acceptance of dairy products produced by one of the largest producers of the country”. largest producers of dairy products destined for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

“It is noted that under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), to which both Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana subscribe, requires free movement of goods and services within the regional integration framework.

“The denial of access to dairy products produced entirely in Guyana by the CARICOM Member State is an affront to the spirit of the Caribbean integration agenda and should not be accepted,” the ministry said in its statement.

The government said it should be appreciated that regional products must comply with the necessary sanitary and phytosanitary rules, technical regulations and any product-specific rules of origin necessary for the products to qualify for regional preferential treatment.

“Available information indicates that Guyana dairy products destined for Trinidad and Tobago fully met these requirements,” the report said, adding that “while some details about the transaction and what led to the incident are still being discussed, the Guyana Livestock Development Agency (GLDA) remains in close contact with its counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago, the exporter and the importer, to resolve this matter within the shortest possible time.

“Guyana remains committed to ensuring that nationals seeking to exercise or benefit from rights granted by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and other regional protocols under the integration agenda are not unnecessarily restricted.
“Guyana has opened its market to regional producers. It is expected that market access for products from Guyana will be guaranteed in any CARICOM country so that the full benefits of regional integration can be realised,” the statement added.