CARICOM Trade Ministers meeting in Guyana on April 29th, approved a range of recommendations aimed at positioning the region’s rum industry to better take advantage of the global market. The measures address a host of domestic and international issues that affect the competitiveness of the industry, which is considered the region’s premier export sector and its largest foreign exchange earner, after mineral exports.
The range of strategies and measures were agreed on by a special working group set up by trade ministers and chaired by Guyana Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, to address constraints facing the industry, as producers seek to take advantage of a fast-growing international market for their premium products. The recommendations of the working group encompassed a broad set of initiatives, ranging from international trade strategies, measures to improve the domestic regulatory environment, strengthening of linkages with the agriculture and tourism sectors, as well as a regional initiative by the industry to address the impact of harmful alcohol consumption.
Chair of the CARICOM Council of Ministers for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), Barbados Minister of Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands, speaking on behalf of the Council, welcomed the report from the working group and its recommendations, and called on the industry and governments to continue working together to realise the full potential of the industry.
Speaking on behalf of the industry, Komal Samaroo, Chairman of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA) and head of the regional conglomerate Demerara Distillers Limited, expressed the gratitude of the grouping for the support provided by governments, as the industry sought to capture a share of the global market in an extremely competitive international marketplace. According to Samaroo, “As the home of rum and an industry well known for quality products competing at the top of the premium and super-premium market segments, the measures will provide the basis on which the industry is poised to grow from strength to strength.”