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‘Grave concern’ as Trinidad authorities reject DDL’s milk

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Trinidad and Tobago authorities rejected the import of two containers of Demerara Distillers Limited’s (DDL) packaged milk and placed containers of bottled flavoured water under heavy scrutiny, moves that are of “grave concern” to the Guyanese company.

The export challenges were flagged by DDL Chairman Komal Samaroo at a press conference on Tuesday. According to him, these developments run counter to the free trade agreements in the region and diminish regional food security goals.

At the press conference, Mr. Samaroo said four 20-foot shipping containers with the products were shipped to Trinidad in March. DDL opted to export these products after working alongside a Trinidadian partner to determine the demand in the Twin Island Republic.

DDL has also been expanding its exports beyond its renowned alcoholic beverages as part of its new diversification venture.

“Regrettably the two containers of packaged milk products were denied entry and returned to Guyana, while the bottled water products have been restricted from sale pending the completion of an unconventionally exhaustive examination of these bottled water products,” Mr. Samaroo told reporters.

Komal Samaroo

The milk products, he said, were subjected to “extremely onerous and stringent” requirements in keeping with Trinidad’s Animal Disease and Importation Act. Meanwhile, very specific and unusual information, including chemical analyses, are being sought for the water.

According to Samaroo, those requirements are not in keeping with the thrust for greater intra-regional trade to meet the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) goal of slashing costly extra-regional food imports by 2025.

He also noted Guyana has no such reciprocal requirement nor do other countries in the region that DDL has been exporting to. The two containers of milk rejected are worth about US$100,000; the water, about US$30,000.

The DDL Chairman ruled out any lapses on part of its Trinidadian partner that conducted the necessary groundwork and vowed that the company would take the matter “as far as necessary” even possibly, to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which has the authority to adjudicate over such trade matters.

This development comes as Guyanese honey producers continue to face substantial difficulties exporting locally-made honey into the Caribbean because of laws in Trinidad and Tobago that block transshipment. In March, the country’s Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Avinash Singh told the News Room that amendments proposed for the T&T’s Beekeeping and Bee Products Act were taken to the Parliament so that the honey trade issue could be resolved.

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