Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ja: No to affirmative action, er, preferential trading

BARBADOS' agriculture and rural development minister Erskine Griffith has criticised preferential trading arrangements, saying they hamper the development of regional agriculture by creating a false sense of comfort among our producers and discouraging the development of value-added or niche products.

Speaking on Sunday at the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show in Clarendon, Griffith said that the preferential trading agreements which were now being phased out had left the region's agriculture ill-equipped and unprepared to compete within the competitive trading environment of an emerging globalisation.

Citing the example of sugar, Griffith noted that the United Kingdom, for example, bought raw sugar from the Caribbean, processed it into refined sugar and then re-exported it to the region.

"Although regional producers would have benefited from stable prices under these preferential arrangements, such arrangements generally did not facilitate the development of value-added products or the use of newer technologies and methods, but shielded the agricultural sectors from regional and international competition.

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