Poultry Producers Resist Lower Tariffs

[Linked Image] [Linked Image] The Caribbean Poultry Association convened a special broad meeting in Belize today to discuss new tariff measures being proposed by CARICOM's trading partners which they say would crush regional poultry producers.

If it sounds like protectionism, it is, but we wouldn't quite call them chicken, or chicken little, because if those new tariffs get approved, they say the skies will come falling down:

Chris Levy, President Caribbean Poultry Association

"We are at a very critical point in the history of agriculture for all of our countries. The CPA pretty much cover pretty much all of the producing countries in the Caribbean region and we are at a very important point. Agriculture is the back bone of all of our countries and I think it is under a threat that we have not seen the likes I would say for the last 20 years or so."

Desmond Ali, Exec. Dir. - Caribbean Poultry Association
[Linked Image] "One of the important item on the agenda of our meeting today has to do with the what is called the common external tariffs - it's a tariff position that was agreed by the heads of government of the Caribbean region that deals with imports coming into the region from outside of the region. it's a way first of all of protecting the industry within the region and secondly to ensure that all of the countries of the Caricom area take a common position in respect of extra regional imports."

Chris Levy, President Caribbean Poultry Association
"This is not just a poultry issue; it's an issue that will impact the citrus industry in Belize. It will impact the grain industry and the rice industry in Guyana. It will impact all of our various countries and I think it is very important for us to know at this point in time that it requires unity and a very clear purpose of how we approach this challenge."

Desmond Ali, Exec. Dir. - Caribbean Poultry Association
"One of the issues we are discussing today in fact has to do with how best we defend the present level of the common external tariffs which is as I said is for us to decide."

Chris Levy, President Caribbean Poultry Association
[Linked Image] "When you throw agriculture under the bus, a fundamental question have to be ask 'well what happens to those 200,000 people that working in agriculture sector and their dependents and I am sure it is the same here in Belize as it is in Trinidad or Guyana or Barbados and we need to recognize that whilst the agriculture sector is not a very sexy sector - we don't have girls on phones walking around - we are the background of our countries."

And while it's important for the poultry people to repel that tarrif reduction, the good news is that Belize continues to be one of the most chicken eating places in the hemisphere.

Orlando Habet of the Belize Poultry Association told us more about Belize's poultry consumption habits:

Orlando Habet

[Linked Image] "Belize is one of the highest consumers of chicken meat in the region and basically in the entire northern hemisphere. We have the advantage within the other meat sectors, looking at beef, pork and lamb - where chicken continues to be the cheapest source of animal protein that is available for our Belizean consumer and thus we believe that it maintain its status during the last 5 years in terms of chicken consumption and we have averaging somewhere around 105-110 pounds of chicken meat per person per year which is very high."

"The consumption of eggs in Belize has not grown as much as the consumption of meat has. In the region we are still on the low side. In Central America we are higher than Nicaragua but lower that the other countries in Central America. We are a little bit higher that most of the countries in the Caribbean but very low compared to our neighbors in the north in Mexico who consumes some 400 eggs per person per year. We are about 130 eggs per person per year."


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