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Guyana is to supply Jamaica with 60,000 tonnes of rice in 2009.
The arrangement was detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Georgetown between the Government of Guyana and the Government of Jamaica on Friday (November 7) with the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the Honourable Karl Samuda signing on behalf of the Government of Jamaica and the Honourable Dr. Henry Jeffrey, Minister of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation signing on behalf of the Government of Guyana.
Under the terms of the agreement Guyana is to supply Jamaica with an average of 5,000 metric tonnes of rice per month at market prices, starting January 1, 2009 and continuing through to the end of the year.
Earlier this year there was an issue of Guyana’s ability to meet the rice demands of Jamaica. As a result Jamaica had applied for a suspension of the Common External Tariff to allow the importation of 9,000 tonnes of rice from non CARICOM sources. Guyana had opposed this application. Subsequently both countries held bilateral discussions and Guyana gave its support to the suspension of the CET on condition that Jamaica sought to achieve an import level of 60,000 tonnes of rice over a twelve month period.
The MOU which was signed on Friday is in fulfillment of that commitment. The MOU provides that where Guyana is unable to supply the agreed quantities of rice it will immediately notify Jamaica, and will not object to a request from Jamaica for a suspension of the CET to allow imports of an amount to be agreed by both parties.
Minister Samuda, who addressed a Conference celebrating 100 years of the rice industry in Guyana, said that Jamaica with imports of 50,000 tonnes in 2007 was the largest single importer of rice from Guyana. He described the MOU as signaling new levels of co-operation between both countries and reassured Guyanese millers and rice growers that Jamaica would not seek to import from extra-regional sources so long as Guyana can provide a reliable supply of the commodity.
Minister Samuda also encouraged the members of the rice community in Guyana to explore the possibility of joint ventures in Jamaica.