Oct 13, 2015 News
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is calling on the David Granger administration to seek to immediately activate the numerous mechanisms in place under the Treaty of Chaguaramas to protect Guyana’s agricultural industries particularly rice and sugar.
The position was adumbrated by the party’s General Secretary, Clement Rohee, yesterday, at Freedom House, Robb Street.
Rohee said the party wants the rice and sugar industries treated as ‘sensitive.’ “The destruction of the rice industry has started once again as was the case in the 1970’s to 1980s,” said Rohee.
He said, given the prevailing situation Guyanese are left to wonder whether the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, took the opportunity to raise the problems affecting the rice and sugar industries with his Caricom colleagues recently in Georgetown.
He had met with his regional counterparts when they met at the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).
Rohee wants to know whether Holder sought their collective cooperation and efforts in the search for solutions such as, access to Regional and extra-regional markets for Guyana’s rice.
“Was CARDI’s assistance sought in keeping with the Agreement establishing the Institute?”
He questioned, too, if the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) assistance was sought in keeping with the objectives establishing the Agency.
“Was the assistance of the Caribbean Food Corporation sought?” asked Rohee.
Rohee drew reference to what he called the declared policy of Economic Diplomacy of the Granger Administration. He asked if the Minister of Foreign Affairs, working in close collaboration with the Minister of Agriculture at the level of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), sought to invoke the appropriate Articles of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas to secure Guyana’s economic and trade interests?
The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, treating with Caricom’s Agricultural policy imposes on Member States the obligation to assist each other, according to Rohee.
The CARICOM Treaty, he said, places obligations on member states to seek “an enlarged share of the world market for primary and processed of agricultural products”
The CARICOM Treaty, according to Rohee also calls for effective support measures to enhance the capabilities of Member States in the area of agricultural trade analysis and negotiations.
He stated, further, that the Revised Treaty’s Agricultural Policy treating with the marketing of agricultural products states; “The Community shall, in collaboration with competent National, Regional and International organizations, promote the development of effective agricultural marketing systems in order to respond to; influence and generate market demand for agricultural products of Member State.”
Rohee has since called on the government to immediately seek to invoke Articles of the Revised Treaty treating with Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors, “to assist the Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors towards becoming economically viable and competitive by appropriate interventions of a transitional and temporary nature”
The PPP General Secretary surmised that at this juncture in Guyana, the rice industry in particular, and the agricultural section in general, can be deemed a sensitive industry and a disadvantaged sector respectively within the meaning of the Treaty treating with Disadvantaged Countries, Regions and Sectors.
As such, Rohee said the Government of Guyana must immediately by way of application to COTED seek to have the rice industry/agricultural sector considered sensitive and disadvantaged, by reason of its vulnerable nature.
He said the Government of Guyana must also take urgent steps to request support from the Regional Development Fund ‘which form part of the Special Regime for Disadvantages Countries, Regions and Sectors”.
Rohee also wants Government to press for the further opening up of CARICOM countries markets for increased quantities for Guyana’s rice and for the imposition of the Common External Tariff (CET) and quantitative restrictions of a temporary nature on extra-regional rice imports.
“The PPP is of the view that contrary to the claim by the Granger-led APNU+AFC Coalition, the government is obligated to find solutions for the rice industry utilizing the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas; the Regional Inter-Governmental Agreement to facilitate the free movement of goods and services between Member States of the Caribbean Community.”
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