Guyana will not be able to transship honey exports through Trinidad and Tobago any time soon because the twin-island Caribbean nation does not know when it will amend its almost 70-year old law.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Richard Kangaloo said his country was sticking by the law as far as possible but was willing to “consider” Guyana’s requests for movement of honey through his country for intra and extra-regional markets. “It is difficult to put a timeline on it, as I told the COTED (Council for Trade and Economic Development), because of the processes that are involved in having that those types of involved resolved legislatively,” he said.
In February 2015, Trinidad and Tobago fined La Parkan US$3,000 for facilitating the movement of honey within one mile of Trinidad and Tobago’s shores. Kangaloo, said the matter was one the agenda of the just concluded agricultural ministerial meeting of Caricom’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in the Cayman Islands but no time-frame has been set for amending his country’s Beekeeping and Bee Products Act.
Kangaloo said legislation has been drafted and would have to be the subject of consultations with stakeholders before any decision is made. He denied that his country was engaging in non-tariff protectionism of its market given the length of time government has taken to change the law. “Some of these issues take longer than expected but as you could appreciate revision of any Act takes time. It’s not just a matter of amending regulations; the substance of the act has to change to facilitate the illegal importation of any agricultural project,” he said.
The Suriname-based Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), which is part of a technical working group that is addressing the issue, also had no clear idea when Trinidad and Tobago would amend its law. “The communication from Trinidad was that they will be updating the legislation. They didn’t give a timeframe when that will be completed but they said they will be working on it,” CAHFSA’s Animal Health Specialist, Gavin Peters told Demerara Waves Online News.
Kangaloo stressed the importance of ensuring that all the safeguards are in place to avoid the importation of diseases or pests into the country, and added that CAHFSA has not done any studies in Guyana.
Peters said the issue was no longer a sanitary or phytosanitary one and has since been grounded in the need for legislative changes. “It’s not about risk, it’s about the legislation that gives permission for the movement of honey through Trinidad and Tobago or entering Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.