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Dec 18, 2015

Former C.E.O. Sergio Garcia Says G.O.B. is Deliberately Blocking Rice Importation

The deadlock between importer Jack Charles and the Belize Agro-productive Sector Group, as well as the Government of Belize, has resulted in what is being called a technical barrier to trade.  BAHA, according to regional trade expert Sergio Garcia, is being used as the vehicle to thwart that process. While C.E.O. Alpuche says the shipment has not been tested for quality, Garcia, who is representing Jack Charles’ interest, contends that the agency, whose responsibilities are limited strictly to agricultural health, has nothing to do with the specific limits on the quantity or value of goods that can be imported during a specific time period.

 

Jack Charles

Sergio Garcia, Regional Trade Expert

“The point we are trying to make here is that rice from Guyana does not pose any type of risk to the human health nor the plant health because rice has been coming in, three point two million pounds in fact.  We have eaten it.  It was a deception because the Belizean public did not know that they were eating something.  That benefit was not passed on to the consumers.  Now that an independent businessman wants to do the same thing that they did, they’re crying foul.  All I have to say is that as far as we are concerned, the phytosanitary certificate because this is an agricultural product.  BAHA is strictly agricultural health, it has nothing to do with quantitative restrictions because under the Supplies Control Act 293 of the Laws of Belize, it says here, provided that the first schedule to these regulations shall not apply to the goods imported from any of the countries from the Caribbean Community and in respect of such countries, regulations three point shall have effect in relation to the goods specified in the fifth schedule.  All that is saying is that since rice is in schedule one it does not apply to the CARICOM product.  So, in other words, you cannot use a barrier to trade and this is what we consider a barrier to trade.”

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