Suriname eases rule on rice imports from Guyana
Stabroek News
March 18, 2004

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Guyana can now export rice to Suriname without the product being subject to a pest-risk analysis, according to General Secretary of the Rice Producers' Association, Dharamkumar Seeraj.

Seeraj made this comment yesterday after the Surinamese government granted permission to one of its entrepreneurs to import parboiled rice from Guyana.

Stabroek News was unable to ascertain the name of the entrepreneur

Speaking to this newspaper yesterday, Seeraj said Guyana for the better part of last year was restricted from exporting rice to its South American counterpart due to the imposition of a pest-risk analysis by Suriname. Seeraj said the Surinamese government had some concerns about the quality of Guyana's rice hence the imposition.

Seeraj however said the decision did not go down well with Guyana which felt that it was a technical barrier to trade among Caricom member states and was also in contravention of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which binds Caricom countries.

Seeraj said too that there were no grounds for the imposition and it was their collective view that Suriname was trying to protect its rice market. Seeraj said that the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation wrote to Suriname protesting the imposition and also raised the matter at the 16th meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), recently held in Belize. Seeraj said the two countries later entered into bilateral discussions which resulted in Suriname lifting the imposition, paving the way for Guyanese to export rice into the country without being subjected to a risk analysis.

Stabroek News was told that only one Guyanese firm, Nand Persaud and Sons Ltd of Berbice exports rice to Suriname. Seeraj said it was this firm which encountered the problems.

Meanwhile, in a De Ware Tijd report the Trade and Industry Ministry of Suriname said the granting of permission for the entrepreneur to import rice from Guyana was a point of discussion at the COTED meeting. Trade and Industry Minister of Suriname, Michael Jong Tjien Fa said according to the newspaper report that rice imports from the region is a sensitive business as the government is busy taking all kinds of measures to protect the Suriname rice sector. He mentioned too that is was for that reason the application to import parboiled rice from Guyana was thoroughly studied before permission was given.