Guyana to push food security agenda, new trade systems at IX Summit of Americas

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Guyana, whose delegation at the ninth Summit of the Americas is being led by President Dr Irfaan Ali, has a number of issues on its agenda to be discussed including food security and a new, revamped trade system, all which Guyana will be pushing for.

In an interview with local news agency News Room, President Ali explained that Guyana will be advocating for changes in a number of areas, including a new trade policy that will bridge the gap between various developing countries. According to him, a fair framework that also encompasses the distribution of vaccines during pandemics must be built.

“The developing world has more than a billion people without access to food, water, you have rising food insecurity, you have all of these issues that we have to deal with, like the Americas. If we are to address the issue of sustainability and resilience.”

“We can’t speak of resilience in the Americas if we can’t find a fair framework as to how we address pandemics and you don’t have countries within the Americas who find themselves hustling for vaccines when we are a part of a system that’s supposed to be supporting each other,” the President said.

Other important issues on Guyana’s agenda include food security, transnational crime, inequalities, and democracy. The President assured that he will be speaking on all of these issues.

“These are all important areas that this conference will be addressing. And Guyana is playing no small role in all of these areas,” the President explained.

The Summit is being held from June 6 to 10 under the theme, “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future”. President Ali arrived in LA a few nights ago, accompanied by First Lady Arya Ali, – Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud and Ambassador George Talbot.

On Wednesday, when the opening ceremony was held, President Ali met and had a photo op with US President Joe Biden and the US First lady Jill Biden. He also met with other CARICOM leaders and took part in celebrations of the 50th birthday of the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit.

It is expected that the summit will address a range of issues including a green future and clean energy; democratic governance; COVID-19 recovery and pandemic resilience and transforming the Western Hemisphere’s digital infrastructure.

Guyana has so far emerged as a leader in regional food security, chairing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Special Ministerial Task Force on food production and food security, hosting the recently concluded Agri-Investment Forum and Expo and articulating the “25 per cent by 2025” strategy, which has its genesis in the Guyana Government’s aggressive campaign to dismantle regional barriers to agricultural trade.

President Ali has said that in the next four years, with the assistance of more diversified crops, Guyana would aim to reduce Caricom’s food import bill by 25 per cent. To this end, the President had made a comprehensive presentation to regional heads on food security strategies during CARICOM’s 33rd Inter-Sessional Meeting in March.

Months after assuming office, President Ali had charged the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry to assess and address the hurdles related to exporting food and agricultural products to markets within the Region. As such, concerns about barriers to trade in some Caricom markets were raised with the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) earlier this year.

The Ministry subsequently formed a National Working Group on Barriers to Trade against Exports from Guyana. According to the assessment on market access by the Working Group, most of the challenges found were related to technical measures including sanitary and phytosanitary measures. It also found several technical and administrative regulations that were all hampering the export of Guyanese products.