Acting Director of Agriculture Jedidiah Maxime said the Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to restrict the import of eight agricultural products in Antigua and Barbuda is in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, explaining, “Under the WTO, a country can impose restrictions, a country cannot ban, but we can use various mechanisms to restrict.”
Maxime said that WTO agreements signed by Antigua and Barbuda allow the ministry to impose tariffs with a certain degree of flexibility “on a certain commodity if that commodity is going to affect your local production.” However, the restrictions on the import of carrots, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, butternut squash, sweet pepper, eggplant and cabbage will not apply to Caricom territories. He added that he is still hopeful importers will stick to local produce.
“Caricom, of course, is a free trade area, so we could not stop people from bringing in anything from the Caribbean region per se. But we believe that the price that we are able to sell the things for will cause the importers to recognise that it will be in their interest to buy the things locally,” Maxime said. The acting director of agriculture said the ministry has been working closely with importers to reduce the nation’s annual food import bill and he is confident they will see advantages in buying local rather than importing.
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