Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud last week, joined the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony and other Government officials, private sector representatives, and local food importers in a discussion facilitated by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) of the Ministry of Health, on challenges experienced by food importers.
According to local importers, among other issues, the non-recognition of import documents from third parties poses some challenges to trade. Presently, the ‘Food for Human Consumption Certificate of Free Sale’ is the only document accepted by the GA-FDD. The document, which is issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), certifies the sanitary and safe condition of products being exported.
During the meeting, the Foreign Secretary emphasised the fact that sanitary and phytosanitary matters are reflected in all of Guyana’s major trade agreements. He also acknowledged the concerns regarding the trade-restrictive impact of sanitary and phytosanitary regulation and assured participants that trade policy is concerned about addressing both ends of the spectrum.
The Foreign Secretary stated that while a resolution of the matter was outside the scope of the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry “remains equally committed to ensuring that consumers can continue to have access to a variety of import products that are of good quality and safe for human consumption and that Guyanese export products are equally able to comply with safety and quality requirements of import markets.”
Further, Persaud called for a participatory approach to “facilitate effective and transparent dialogue geared towards identifying costs and benefits and consensus-building on the policy position that would maximize gains versus costs to society.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation remains committed to supporting free trade, lowering administrative bottlenecks, and other challenges that may increase the transaction costs of conducting trade, both for importers and exporters.