Pres. Ali to C’bean citizens: “Put pressure” on CARICOM Leaders to remove trade barriers

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali has called on citizens in the Caribbean to pressure their leaders to remove barriers that affect inter-regional trade.

The Guyanese Leader, who currently holds the Chairmanship of the Caribbean Community, made this statement this evening during the opening ceremony of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government being held in Guyana from February 25 to 28.

According to President Ali, while work is continuing at the CARICOM level to address the removal of trade barriers within Member States, citizens in the region need to hold their leaders accountable to act swiftly on this matter.

“The people of CARICOM must put pressure on the Leaders of CARICOM to remove the trade barriers. It is of no use and purpose for this region. We are too small to be competing against each other. People of this region, call upon your leaders to remove these barriers. Let them hear you loudly, these barriers need to go and must go urgently,” the Guyanese Head of State stressed.

Caribbean Leaders at the opening of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government in Georgetown on Sunday evening 

For year, the private sector in Guyana has been lamenting about the various trade barriers in the region, especially by Trinidad and Tobago, which serves to block Guyanese exports to that and other markets – an issue which they say has not been adequately addressed by CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).

One of the products that is of contention is honey shipment between the two countries.

Currently, T&T’s honey and bee products are guided by the country’s archaic Food and Drug Act of 1960 and Beekeeping and Bee Products Act of 1935. According to the Beekeeping and Bee Products Act, only honey from the Windward and Leeward Islands can be transshipped to the twin-island Republic – something which Guyana along with Grenada has long been arguing goes against the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

However, back in October 2023, T&T’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Conrad Enil, had noted his country is taking steps to resolve the honey trade issue.

“The legislation to deal with the honey issue is now before the parliament so that issue should be dealt with before the end of this year,” Enil indicated at a seminar hosted for a visiting trade mission from the twin-island Republic.

A packed auditorium at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown on Sunday evening at the opening ceremony of the 46th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting being held in Guyana

Only in June 2023, President Ali, while speaking with reporters on the sideline of a high-level regional Agriculture Ministerial meeting held in Georgetown, reassured that the issue of honey trade between Guyana and Trinidad would be resolved.

He had noted that discussions on this matter were held between him and his Trinidadian counterpart, Prime Minister Keith Rowley, with both leaders committing to having it addressed.