Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir. (FP)

The way forward for agriculture in the region depends on greater cooperation among CARICOM Member States.

This was the consensus among those gathered at The Alliance Meeting, held today, at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Needham’s Point, St. Michael.

Speaking after a presentation on ‘Eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) to Intra-Regional Trade on Agricultural Products’, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, echoed the sentiments for greater cooperation, and said: “It is time to move beyond discussions.  Now is the time to identify the strengths of each CARICOM Member State, and decide who should trade what agricultural products.”

During a presentation, based on a mandated study from the Council for Trade and Economic Development, it was stated that only a relatively small percentage of trade among CARICOM Member States occurs, despite longstanding agreements, and it was easier to import agro-products from Miami than it was from the region.

Other revelations from the study included: many NTBs are based on outdated legislation that does not comply with multilateral and regional commitments; NTBs on intra-regional agri-trade primarily occur from unjustified applications of non-tariff measures (NTMs) usually in a discriminatory manner; and several legitimate NTMs, particularly technical  and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, used for legitimate public policy objectives, are having trade restrictive effects.

‘The Alliance’, which comprises IICA, the Caribbean Community Secretariat, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, hopes at the end of the discussions that they could ‘map’ the way forward for the future of the agriculture sector, and by extension, more efficient trading of agri-products in the Caribbean region.

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