TT will not use ‘artificial unreasonable barriers’ to block honey imports- Dr. Rowley

The Trinidad and Tobago laws barring the importation of Guyanese honey and honey products into Trinidad were on Sunday raised as the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate in areas including food security. TT Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley who is on an official visit to Guyana was asked when his country will amend its laws paving the way for the removal of the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) for the commodities.

While he did not give a timeline, he noted that the country will not let what he terms “artificial Phyto-sanitary barriers” prevent trade in agriculture.

“We will do what has to be done to ensure we are not using artificial unreasonable barriers,” he noted.

However, Dr. Rowley was quick to point out that the country will not do away with all sanitary requirements for the importation of the product.

“We are not going to be reckless, we are not going to be cavalier because there is the requirement to have Phyto-sanitary control to protect all of us but we are not going to use artificial barriers. Going forward we want to ensure that when we lift those barriers, that there’s reasonable and sound scientific basis for doing it and once we do that, then the vested interests will have to be asked to come along,” he said.

According to the Trinidad & Tobago Beekeeping and Bee products Act of 1935, the importation of honey and beeswax are prohibited except for comb foundation or beeswax to be used solely for medical and dental purposes. Further, no honey is permitted one mile from the shore resulting in a U.S.$3,000 fine being imposed on Guyanese company Laparkan in 2015.

The MoU signed with Guyana on Sunday addresses areas of trade and investment, agriculture and food security, infrastructure, energy, security, education, tourism and sports.

Signed by Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Hugh Todd and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs Dr. Amery Browne, the document also seeks to address the non-tariff barriers and other impediments to the flow of goods and services between Guyana and Trinidad.

Aside from honey exports and imports, a wider list of items affected by non-tariff barriers will be looked at.

President of Guyana Dr. Irfaan Ali said beyond Trinidad & Tobago, at the level of the Agriculture sub-committee of CARICOM which he leads, a comprehensive document for the entire region was formulated looking at every issue and product along with the action required by member states.

“That mechanism in CARICOM that deals with it is the COTED (Council for Trade and Economic Development) mechanism. Out of this discussion at this forum, we realized that we need to take this as a special project…because this is something that has far-reaching effects and something that needs focused work,” he said.

Notwithstanding that, he said over the last couple of days, the regional leaders discussed standardizing Phyto-sanitary requirements and pre-clearance of products.

The President said he is confident this MoU will work with the support of the private sector, investors and the Ministries of Foreign affairs.