GMSA urges T&T authorities to resolve ‘breach’ swiftly    


Full statement below:

The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) has taken note of the recent denial of entry into the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago of two containers of packaged milk products exported from Guyana by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), the containers were returned to Guyana.

In addition, two containers of bottled flavoured water products have been restricted from sale pending the completion of an exhaustive examination of these bottled water products.

This development is of significant concern, particularly in light of the principles enshrined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which mandates the free movement of goods and services among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states.

Of equal importance is the commitment of all Heads of Government of CARICOM to work together towards food security in the region, and the ambitious but necessary reduction in the regional food importation bill by 25% by the year 2025. Actions similar to those taken by Trinidad and Tobago against DDL are inimical to the achievement of these objectives.

In the circumstances, the GMSA joins the call by its member, DDL, for the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the leadership of the various organs of CARICOM, to intervene with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to have the situation satisfactorily remedied in the shortest possible time.

It is imperative that all CARICOM member states adhere to the regional integration framework, which promotes equitable market access and the seamless flow of goods within the community. In a Summary of Facts that accompanied the DDL prepared statement yesterday, the company stated that “DDL met with the Ministry of Trade (TT) virtually on May 13 to understand the reason for the rejection of the milk exported to the country and the process to be followed to have the company’s products added to the list of approved imports into Trinidad.” DDL was advised that, among other things, “The Animal Disease and Importation Act 2020 of Trinidad and Tobago prohibits the import of animal and animal-based products into Trinidad and Tobago subject to stringent and onerous requirements which are not reciprocal for such products being imported into Guyana.”

We wish to draw to the attention of all stakeholders that, in a 2014 trade dispute between Suriname’s Rudisa Beverages & Juices N.V. subsidiary Caribbean International Distributors Inc (CIDI) and the State of Guyana, the Caribbean Court of Justice stated that, “The argument put forward by Guyana runs counter to the well-known doctrine of pacta sunt servanda, codified in Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969, which provides  that a State must perform its treaty obligations in good faith. As a corollary, Article 27 goes on to provide that a State cannot invoke the provisions of its internal law as a justification for its failure to comply with its treaty obligations.”

While the specifics of the dispute between Rudisa and Guyana were different, the principles enshrined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969 remain applicable.

The GMSA is in contact with our sister organisation, the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), and our regional umbrella organisation, the Caribbean Manufacturers Association (CMA), to help find solutions to the problem. We urge the relevant authorities in Trinidad and Tobago to move swiftly to resolve the breach without the need for other interventions.