Key members of the United States Congress have pledged to embark on efforts to determine what are the constraints that need to be overcome to facilitate the transfer of sugar quotas from one Caricom member state to another.
These pledges result from an appeal made to several Members of the United States Congress, including key members of the Agriculture Committee by Komal Samaroo, Chairman of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) during Caribbean American Legislative Week. Samaroo told Members of Congress in one-on-one meetings and in a keynote lunch address that reallocation of sugar quotas on a regional level would help strengthen the industry in those countries that still produce sugar.
Currently, according to Samaroo, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts and Nevis enjoy quota allocation for sugar on the US market for some 15,000 tons although these two countries no longer produce sugar.
“Reallocating these quotas to countries in the Caribbean that still produce sugar would make sense. I was not aware of this need and I will take follow up action including writing to the United States Trade Representative requesting that we look at this to see why it has not happened and what needs to be done to make it happen,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee said in response to Samaroo’s request for assistance at the opening session of the Caribbean Legislative Forum on Capitol Hill last Wednesday.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett asked Samaroo for a detailed outline of the problem which was later provided to her key staffers at a private meeting. “I want to have the details on this issue and to make sure I fully understand it so that I can raise it with the United States Trade Representative when he comes here to testify in a few weeks,” Plaskett, a member of the agriculture committee, said.
Several other members of the US Congress were briefed on the matter and have pledged to work to resolve it.
The Ambassador of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United States, Dr. Thelma Phillips-Browne advised at the working lunch session that her country had already indicated its desire to reallocate its quota to Guyana and would support all efforts to make this a reality.