May 6, 2005

Antigua violating OECS rules

The penetration of the Antigua market by producers of Trinidad flour is threatening to derail the continuation of Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS) solidarity.

The matter was ventilated by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsaves as he addressed Tuedays debate in the House of Assembly. Dr. Gonsalves reiterated his stance as a committed regionalist, and he was decidedly choosy with his words on the delicate subject. But he was adamant that the matter be brought into the public arena. {{more}}

In an unlikely political act of commendations to his sworn political enemies, Dr. Gonsalves praised former Prime Ministers Sir James Mitchell and Arhim Eustace for “sticking to Treaty obligations.”

The area of contention was Antigua and Barbuda’s importation of flour from Trinidad and Tobago in contravention of Article 56 of the the Basseterre Treaty establishing the OECS. Under that agreement, the nations of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, have licenses to export flour to their fellow OECS counterparts. And while in this age of globalisation, such an act ought to have been of little consequence this act by Antigua violates the OECS agreement.

Prime Minister Gonsalves said he wants the contravention to cease immediately.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is scheduled to assume the chairmanship of the OECS, but Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves is hoping that Antigua will comply with the regulations before that time.

The Vincentian Prime Minister alluded to the impact of electricity cost on the ordinary Vincentian user if the locally based Eastern Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) was to be denied concessions to its traditional markets.