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Parties consider solution to protect Barbados farmers from produce imports

The Barbados  Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is willing to establish an arrangement to have fewer imported fruits and vegetables on the nation’s supermarket shelves.

Minister of Business Development Kerrie Symmonds, however, did stipulate that farmers would have to demonstrate that they are able to supply local demand and guarantee there will be no shortages.

Symmonds responded to a call from chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul that the importation of cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, and carrots be banned since farmers had the capacity to satisfy local demand for those fruits and vegetables.

Symmonds also explained that because of international treaty obligations Barbados could not outright ban the importation of produce. Still, a special arrangement could be set up to give local farmers some measure of protection.

“The concept of an outright ban on foreign agricultural imports may sound attractive at a superficial level but it’s not likely to be a workable solution as any such blanket ban on foreign imports is likely to be in breach of WTO [World Trade Organization]  regulations,” Symmonds said.

“I do, however, agree that there must be further discussion about possible solutions and I strongly believe that the missing link in our national food security discussion has been a common understanding of what is, in fact, legally permissible given our WTO membership and commitments and what is actually deliverable by our farming community. So, as a first step, I will wish to have the Ministry of Foreign Trade at the table as an indispensable part of the process.”


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