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August 13, 2015 – Belmopan, Belize. The shrimp industry in Belize is this week more certain of the way forward to addressing some of its challenges and how the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) can help producers, processers and distributors improve quality and possibly increase exports.

This follows an intensive three-day CALIDENA Diagnostic workshop that was the result of collaboration on the shrimp industry between the BBS, its regional umbrella body – the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and funders, the International Technical Cooperation Department of the German Metrology Institute (PTB).

The CALIDENA methodology under the CROSQ-implemented and PTB-funded project – Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean (RQI 4), has been focussed on improving the quality infrastructure in agriculture-related value chains among the CROSQ Member States. The term “value chain” is based on the concept that the value of a product is created at various stages in production, and looks at all the steps from creation to market, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product.

Belize is one of four countries in the second round of the RQI4 project to be chosen for the strengthening of a value chain, and the country chose its shrimp industry.

The workshop ran from August 5 – 7, 2015, at the George Price Centre in Belmopan, and concluded with a trip to the Belize Agriculture Limited (BAL) shrimp processing plant in Placencia, in the south of Belize. Approximately 20 participants spent the first day of the workshop learning about quality infrastructure and the history of the shrimp industry, conducting analyses of the state of the industry. The second day examined the legislations and regulations central to the shrimp value chain’s operation in Belize, regionally and internationally, while the third day examined a real operation and a GAP analysis of the industry, with a committee being formed to spearhead actions to closing the gaps and correcting the deficiencies found.

By the end, the group had identified challenges pertaining to technical regulations and inspection; standards and certification; laboratory and accreditation services; and metrology and calibration services. Among the needs found in technical regulations and inspection were – inspection services; standards and certification recommended frequent monitoring by a certification body, training in quality systems; in laboratory and accreditation services – an accredited laboratory facility, communication with and among stakeholders, particularly the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the BBS, training of auditors, and they wanted services in temperature and the calibration of scales as well as accreditation of calibration services to help facilitation of trade in the metrology and calibration area.

These and other needs were outlined in the action plan that is devised at the end of such CALIDENA diagnostics, and in addition to identifying persons to sit on the implementation committee, they also determined why these were the challenges they found with QI services, how these challenges could be addressed and by whom, along with timelines.

The committee is now set to meet before the end of the month to begin plotting how it will implement some of the actions decided on during the Diagnostic workshop.

Director of the BBS, Mr. Jose Trejo expressed thanks for the intervention into the shrimp value chain and noted that the bureau was excited and looking forward to the implementation process of the actions decided.

President of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association, Mr. Alvin Henderson said, “I think (the CALIDENA) has brought a lot of clarity to something that is increasingly urgent for us as a country. About two months ago I raised the issue with BAHA about the need for us to have an accredited lab, and it is moreso urgent now.”

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For further information, please contact:

Ms. Latoya Burnham

Technical Officer, Communication & Information

CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)

Direct: 246-622-7671

Tel: 246-62-CROSQ (27670)

Email: latoya.burnham@crosq.org

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The Government of The Bahamas is undertaking an exercise to modernize the agricultural health legislation. The legislation seeks to implement the obligations in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and incorporate the principles of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO) into the legislative framework.

The Government of the Bahamas hereby invites Interested Parts to submit their Expression of Interest in conducting the Consultancy. Below is the link to view the Consultancy Terms of Reference.

EOI-ANIMAL LEGISLATIVE DRAFTING The Bahamas


Participating IPAs included: Invest Barbados, the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), the Belize Trade & Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), Curacao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX), the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), the Centre for Facilitation of Investments in Haiti, Invest Saint Lucia (ISL), Jamaica Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO), InvestSVG (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), the Investment and Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS), and iInvesTT (Trinidad & Tobago).

Participating IPAs included: Invest Barbados, the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), the Belize Trade & Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), Curacao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX), the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), the Centre for Facilitation of Investments in Haiti, Invest Saint Lucia (ISL), Jamaica Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO), InvestSVG (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), the Investment and Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS), and iInvesTT (Trinidad & Tobago).

Targeting existing investors to reinvest in the Caribbean and creating linkages in the domestic economy between investors and local suppliers to drive investment growth were issues at the centre of the strategy recommended to the region’s’ Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) at the recently held workshop facilitated by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) on 27-28 July in St. Lucia.

During the workshop, 22 representatives from 11 IPAs across the Caribbean region were exposed to best practices in facilitating existing investors and in key account management. “It takes up to 3 years to secure an investment from a greenfield project”, noted the CAIPA President, McHale Andrew of Invest Saint Lucia, “but it can take as little as 1 year to secure additional investments from an existing investor. With the current challenges of reduced promotional budgets and a demand for increased foreign investment and jobs, it seems logical that we seek to engage further with those investors who have already partnered with us”, continues the CAIPA President.

The training forms a part of initiatives undertaken through the provision of funding assistance by the Inter-American Development Bank under a Regional Public Goods Programme entitled “Support for Foreign Direct Investment in the Caribbean.” The main objective of this project is to assist the Caribbean Investment Promotion Agencies in the positioning of the region as a location for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and to present the Caribbean as a single investment destination. The project is jointly financed with Caribbean Export and CAIPA.

During the workshop, it was highlighted that already a significant portion of investments into the region come from reinvestments but these figures are not monitored nor incorporated as FDI. The training of the IPAs forms part of a broader initiative to develop a reinvestment programme for CAIPA and to track reinvestment figures within the Caribbean. Preliminary results from a survey of existing investors, which forms a part of this project, indicates an interest or plans by more than 50% of existing investors to expand within the host country or within the region. “Moreover,” notes the Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Mrs. Coke Hamilton, “the region’s best ambassadors and attractors of new investors are our existing investors. We treat them right, and we are already halfway to reaching our investment, jobs and export targets.”

This initiative will see the development of strategies within regional IPAs to address the needs of existing investors and to assist them in expansion plans across the region.  Participating IPAs included: Invest Barbados, the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), the Belize Trade & Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), Curacao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX), the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), the Centre for Facilitation of Investments in Haiti, Invest Saint Lucia (ISL), Jamaica Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO), InvestSVG (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), the Investment and Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS), and iInvesTT (Trinidad & Tobago).


Mrs. Amanda Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society, along with Ms. Lejia Melanie Gideon, General Manager, Enterprise & Innovation Division and Mrs. Nilda Riverol signing the MOU.

Mrs. Amanda Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society, along with Ms. Lejia Melanie Gideon, General Manager, Enterprise & Innovation Division and Mrs. Nilda Riverol signing the MOU.

BELTRAIDE through the Small Business Development Center (SBDCBelize), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) at the Belize Training and Employment Center conference room, solidifying a partnership to assist business located in buffer communities around the protected areas.

The Belize Audubon Society (BAS) is a non-governmental conservation organization working for over 45 years in Belize, focusing on protected areas management, environmental education, advocacy, biodiversity research and monitoring, and community development.

Through the community development and outreach program, communities are engaged in sustainable development initiatives to improve their livelihoods and support conservation. For over 20 years, BAS along with various funders and partners have assisted in building resilient communities through skills training and capacity building in agro-processing, craft making, sustainable fishing, small business development and eco-tourism.

Our partnership will allow BAS to continue programs geared towards community development. Mrs. Amanda Burgos-Acosta, Executive Director, believes that this working-relationship will further demonstrate BAS commitment to empowering these communities through the execution of trainings and business advising by SBDCBelize.


Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export)

Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export)

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) opened the two-day sub-regional workshop on branding and the use of geographical indications in the development of management strategies for origin-linked products at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingstown, Jamaica on July 21st.  With the aim of building the capacity of CARIFORUM producers to identify and develop geographical indications and origin linked products, it is hoped that attending businesses will prosper and enhance their competitiveness in the international arena, and as a result build economic growth and sustainability of the Caribbean region.

The Hon. Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce for Jamaica highlighted in his address to the participants that “Within the Caribbean exist numerous opportunities for GI protection including  black pineapple from Antigua, cascarilla from the Bahamas, cahune oil from Belize, nutmeg from Grenada and sarsaparilla from St. Kitts just to name a few. Geographical Indications offer us the opportunity to protect these brands and our consumers, even as we continue to guarantee quality and provenance.”

Mrs. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in her welcome remarks expressed, “We recognise that the environment in which the region’s private sector operates is ever changing and key areas such as Intellectual Property Rights have emerged which require us to pay attention”.

Geographical Indications (GIs) is a form of Intellectual Property Rights given to goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin.  Research has shown that a product with a protected “Destination of Origin” may attract a premium price of as much as 40% higher than that of a similar product without a GI classification.

Mrs. Coke-Hamilton indicated that the power of GIs for the region has significant implications for ‘Brand Caribbean’ as we continue to seek new markets for our goods and to further penetrate existing markets.  “When we speak about Brand Caribbean, we speak about the need to set the Caribbean apart from other regions, to distinguish our products on shelves flooded by products from Asia or elsewhere and to ensure that the world knows that high quality is not some elusive concept achievable only by first world producers”.  She gave the example of the reputation of the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee which is one of the most expensive and highly sought-after coffees in the world.

Echoing these sentiments Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of Delegation for the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands expressed that “The European Union is convinced of the untapped potential that Geographical Indications have for the Caribbean’s economic development.”  In addition she reiterated “Without access to geographical indications protection tailored to their circumstances and needs, few producers of origin-linked products can benefit from their rights.”

There are many challenges that Caribbean countries face when dealing with GIs and IPs as a whole, these include the lack of knowledge of what constitutes IP and the value this property represents to individual firms; the lack of knowledge of IP laws and insufficient awareness of the work of local intellectual property offices in protecting IP; government agencies which work on IP are understaffed and in many situations, persons at these agencies have multiple portfolios; and the high cost attached to registering IP is considered a deterrent by SMEs in the Region.

To overcome these challenges, Mrs. Coke-Hamilton suggests that firstly we need to make IP capacity building, of firms and the BSOs at the local level, a priority; secondly, the region needs a structured, specialised programme through which relevant firms can be trained in IP; thirdly, there is a need to work with financial institutions to recognise the value of IP, so that they make it possible for the private sector to leverage their IP as collateral when seeking financial assistance and lastly, there is a need to develop and share case studies within the region.

“I do not think that we need to be convinced of the value of GIs and OLPs for our products. What is needed is a commitment on our end to complete the work that has already started in developing GIs for various products such as our Jamaica jerk, cocoa, nutmeg and pineapples”, stressed Mrs. Coke-Hamilton.

The workshop was hosted by the Caribbean Export in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica (the Jamaican Intellectual property Office), the Office of Trade Negotiations of the CARICOM Secretariat, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the REACH Programme of the Inter-American Development Bank in Kingstown, Jamaica from 21st – 22nd July.

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