Government’s position on the local honey industry
June 6, 2014: The matter of importation of honey is grounded in protection granted to local producers of honey through a piece of legislation which was enacted close to a century ago, specifically in the 1930s. This piece of legislation bans the importation of honey into Trinidad and Tobago and domestic honey producers have grown comfortable with this protection over the period. It is however, evident that the regional and international conditions which govern trade eighty years ago are quite different to today’s prevailing conditions. This is a fact that our society and the bee keeping industry must face.
Trinidad and Tobago’s commitments under regional and international agreements, namely the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the World Trade Organization Agreement, obligate Trinidad and Tobago to treat with its trading partners in a particular fashion and as such Trinidad and Tobago must take the necessary steps to ensure that the Beekeeping and Bee Products Act and regulations are in compliance with its regional and international obligations. If this means that Trinidad and Tobago is required to remove the ban on the importation of honey and beeswax as currently set out in the Regulations that will have to be done.
Consideration must also be given to the fact that the situation creates a serious dilemma for Trinidad and Tobago as the major exporter of goods through the CARICOM Region, since no CARICOM country can export honey to Trinidad and Tobago. For example, the small island of Grenada which imports 45.9% of its products from Trinidad and Tobago cannot export its honey to Trinidad and Tobago. Notwithstanding that Grenada may be in a position to legitimately do so.
The concern extends beyond our trading partners to include our domestic consumers. A survey of prices in the supermarkets and along the roadways, Valencia, Matura etc. will show that the prices which local consumers pay are many times higher than those prices paid by consumers in neighbouring countries and regions. In addition, although there are a few excellent producers of the product, the industry is being increasingly penetrated by substandard products and there is clearly a need to further develop and pay some attention to the industry on behalf of consumers.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is aware that technical assistance is required for the development and growth of this industry and the Ministry of Food Production has commenced a number on initiatives with this goal in mind. One of the major objectives being addressed involves the improvements of laboratory facilities to test the product.
In order to satisfy our regional and international obligations with respect to this industry it is intended to remove the total ban that currently exists in respect of the importation of the product and concurrently introduce the necessary safeguards to ensure the continued existence and development of the local industry.
For further information please contact:
Ministry of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communications
Level 17, Nicholas Tower
63-65 Independence Square
Port of Spain.
Tel: (868) 625-9947/623-2931 ext. 2714