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IICA team visits Trade Ministry
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath recently received a courtesy call from representatives of the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) at his Nicholas Towers Office, Port-of-Spain. Gregg Rawlins, IICA representative in T&T and Dr Robert G Ahern, head of Agricultural Health Food and Safety, IICA, held discussions with the minister about a recently signed capacity building programme with the European Union to implement a sanitary and phytosanitary’ (SPS) project over 3-4 years, which will benefit Cariforum countries.
The project consists of three main components—legislation; co-ordination and capacity building—with IICA as one of the lead implementing agencies, along with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Cardi). Bharath gave the commitment that the Trade Ministry will support the project and assist in addressing issues relating to key areas identified for improvement.
He also underscored that agriculture represents great potential for the country and agro-processing is one of the targeted sectors for aggressive development as part of the country’s diversification thrust. Dr Ahern, who was in T&T for a workshop, emphasised the importance of extensive collaboration among IICA, local government ministries and the private sector to ensure that the specific SPS/AHFS needs of T&T are identified and prioritised to allow for development of a proactive and realistic action plan.
He said: “It is anticipated that durable changes will be made to facilitate more efficient trade and business in Cariforum countries.” IICA, in collaboration with the Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS) Directorate, hosted a one day national consultation workshop on the project, Support to the Caribbean Forum of ACP States in the implementation of Commitments Undertaken Under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures.