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T&T rates hurting Jamaica’s farmers

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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KINGSTON – AGRICULTURE MINISTER Dr Christopher Tufton charged that Jamaican primary producers were being short-changed within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a result of a subsidised agro-processing sector in oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago.He indicated Tuesday that in some instances, Trinidadian agro-processors used raw materials imported from outside the region with “unclear duty arrangements”.Making his contribution to the 2010-2011 Sectoral Debate in Parliament, Tufton said Jamaican primary producers were not operating on a level playing field with their Trinidadian counterparts.“It is a concern to me that my peanut farmers are unable to compete for the demand of agro-processors due to peanuts from our CARICOM partner, imported extra-regionally and processed with subsidised energy,” Tufton said.While explaining that he supported the regional trading bloc, the minister insisted he was “concerned about that element of our trading arrangement which placed our farmers and agro-processors at a distinct disadvantage”.Meanwhile, Tufton argued that for too long its southeastern Caribbean partner had misinterpreted World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules to Jamaica’s detriment. He noted that Jamaica allowed free access to its markets but failed to recognise that many competing trade zones enjoyed support from their governments.“We in Jamaica, at the policy level, have failed to give our productive sector and primary producers the benefits of these forms of support,” he added. (Jamaica Gleaner)