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Belize helps to cement sugar benefits at CARICOM trade bloc meeting

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Posted: Monday, March 29, 2021. 11:39 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize, as one of the Caribbean Community’s largest producers of sugar, is front and center in efforts to develop a monitoring mechanism for sugar (MMS) as agreed in 2019 at the 49th regular meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).

The body met at its 90th special meeting by video conference last Thursday to further discussions held at its previous meeting in February.

Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, acknowledged the feedback received from member states and urged the region to adopt a flexible and rational approach in the spirit of the regional integration process. Member states have agreed to establish a monitoring mechanism but two outstanding issues remain. Ministers agreed to form a ministerial sub-committee to further discuss these two key outstanding issues to expedite the approval and implementation of the MMS, which is of critical importance to livelihoods in Belize. The draft terms of reference for the MMS was previously reviewed on February 19 and March 24.

Once established and implemented, the monitoring mechanism will put in place arrangements to ensure that, where extra-regional imports of refined sugar are being contemplated, regional producers are given the opportunity to prove that they are able to supply the quantities and specifications required as indicated through an application to COTED. Only where regional suppliers are unable to supply will member states be authorized to exempt the payment of the Common External Tariff (CET) on imports of sugar from non-CARICOM sources.

Jamaica has asked for an adjustment to regional trade policy to support its producer of condensed milk by applying the CET to imports of that product, while Suriname reported on the implementation of the CARICOM Interactive Market Place and Suspension Procedure (CIMSUPRO), which is to provide an electronic interactive market place between producers and buyers of goods produced in CARICOM.

Foreign Minister Courtenay was supported by Ambassador Amalia Mai, Chief Executive Officer; Lawrence Sylvester, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; senior officials from the Directorate General for Foreign Trade, the Attorney General’s Ministry, the Belize Customs and Excise Department; and representatives from the Belize Sugar Industry.

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