T&T blocks import of GYD 20m in packaged milk from Guyana

T&T blocks import of GYD 20m  in packaged milk from Guyana

Selection of milk products blocked.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana--Despite efforts by the Caribbean Community CARICOM to increase trade and the movement of goods within the region, a Guyanese company has once again had its exports blocked by a sister Caribbean country, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).

At an emergency press conference called on Tuesday, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) Chairman Komal Samaroo revealed that four 20-foot (ft) shipping containers of packaged milk and bottled water were recently blocked by Trinidadian authorities from entry into that country. The milk, according to him, was worth approximately US $100,000 (GYD 20 million).

“This development is of grave concern to DDL since it inhibits its ongoing efforts to meaningfully contribute to the food security efforts of the CARICOM region. DDL exported to Trinidad and Tobago during March, four 20ft shipping containers of these products based on an evaluation of the Trinidad market by a Trinidadian business enterprise, which determined a desire for these products by the Trinidadian consumers,” Samaroo said.

“Regrettably, the two containers of packaged milk were denied entry and returned to Guyana, while the bottled water products have been restricted from sale pending the completion of an unconventionally exhaustive examination of these bottled water products,” Samaroo explained to the media.

He further related that on May 13, DDL engaged with a team from the Trinidadian Ministry of Trade, where the topic of the rejected milk exports was discussed. According to Samaroo, the officials informed them that blocking the imports of milk was based on Trinidad’s Animal Disease and Importation Act 2020. However, Samaroo described this process as “onerous and stringent”.

“DDL finds these requirements contrary to the spirit of intra-regional trade, especially since we are reliably informed that Guyana has no such reciprocal requirements for the importation of similar products from Trinidad and Tobago.”

“DDL therefore requests that the government of Guyana take note of these developments and seek to ensure that there is balance and equity in our trade relations with Trinidad and Tobago,” Samaroo further said.

Samaroo noted that these products have been exported to other CARICOM territories with no such problems. As such, this is the first time they’ve encountered non-tariff trade barriers during their exports of their diversified line of products.

The executive also confirmed that CARICOM Chairman, President Dr. Irfaan Ali, was briefed on the situation. According to him, President Ali was “very shocked” and he added that he was confident the president would take action. He also assured that they would be pursuing every avenue to ensure redress is received, even hinting at the possibility of approaching the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

“We believe we will be having discussions with the government. And we believe this matter requires CARICOM attention. You cannot be promoting trade on an uneven playing field, where you have ready access but nobody has access to your market. That cannot work,” Samaroo said.

Samaroo noted that they worked alongside an established importing company in Trinidad before exporting, that had assured them that they satisfied all the restrictions. In fact, Samaroo revealed that these products are Food and Drug Agency (FDA)-certified.

It would not be the first time Guyana has experienced hurdles in exporting products to Trinidad. Years of battling with hindrances to the transshipment of certain products, such as honey, into Trinidad and Tobago, resulted in reports last year that legislation was before the Parliament of the twin-island Republic to resolve the decade-old issue. ~ iNews Guyana ~

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