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Jan 7, 2016

Rice War is not a Trade Dispute Says SecGen LaRocque

Irwin LaRocque

While a resolution in the Caribbean Court of Justice has not been determined, LaRocque says that the present issue is not a trade dispute.  Instead, it primarily revolves around the SPS Agreement which deals with sanitary and phytosanitary measures dealing with animal and plant health.

 

Reporter

“Sir what is your vision in terms of having this rice issue resolved, especially against the backdrop of what the wider vision for CARICOM is?”

 

Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General, CARICOM

“Well I hope that the parties can find a solution to this and if they can’t there is a process.  Again, I am not fully ceased of all the details and I am being extremely cautious.  There is a general process when there is a trading issue, a trading dispute that takes place and how you go about addressing it.  In this instance, in this particular instance, from what I have gleaned from the public domain, from what I read in the media, it is an SPS issue and hence it is not necessarily a trade dispute in that realm.  Again, I’m being very cautious, I do not know the full details.  So one would have to understand how you would resolve the SPS.  SPS generally has its own procedures that are set by the WTO, in terms of how you can use SPS and for what and how you go about doing this.  So again, I have to be very cautious in pronouncing on any specific way on this particular issue.”

 

Businessman Jack Charles returns to court on Tuesday, after being granted an injunction by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin restraining customs from taking possession of the cargo of rice.

Earlier today, Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action, COLA, issued a release rescinding an initial position that the organization took on the issue of imported rice.  COLA says that while it respects the decision of the Supreme Court that businessman Jack Charles erred in process when he brought in three containers of Guyanese rice without having obtained an import permit, it decries the notion of destroying of the shipment.  COLA says that Charles should be given a chance to re-export the grain at his own expense.  It goes on to say that Charles should not be compensated for his consignment since his means of going about the importation were poor.  COLA has officially change its position and says it fully supports local production of rice in order for consumers to get the best benefit and true food security.

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