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Ali, Mottley leave T&T, head for Brazil

■ Anna Ramdass

GUYANA'S President Dr Irfaan Ali and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley both left Trinidad yesterday together for Brazil for a working visit to the Roraima province.

The Express understands that discussions there will also focus on food security efforts as Ali had spoken about working with Brazil to achieve Caricom's goal of reducing the region's food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.

In May this year at the first instalment of the Agri Investment Forum in Guyana, Ali said Caricom had committed to ensuring that Brazil plays a role in the region's Agricultural Ministerial Task Force.

Ali was in Trinidad for a five day State visit and he concluded his stay here with a brief official ceremony at the South terminal of the Piarco International airport yesterday where the guard of honour lined the tarmac.

On site were Acting President Christine Kangaloo, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein.

Mottley was first driven to the private airplane which she boarded just before 11.30 a.m.

Ali then walked the red carpet where the national anthems of both Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago were played. He bid goodbye to the Government delegation and then joined Mottley on the aircraft.

In an interview with the media, Browne said the President and his delegation felt 'loved, welcomed and honoured'.

He said Trinidad and Tobago was very happy to host after we were well received in Guyana in May.

The Minister hailed the success of the bilateral talks and the Agri Investment Forum held in Port of Spain.

'This has been a very important step in the bilateral relations between the two nations which goes back a very long way and which is deemed very important to the common interest of our people, in general economic terms, in terms of our social and spiritual connection and particularly with respect to our respective roles in the burgeoning agri regional food system elaboration and the development of the concept of regional food autonomy and security,' he said.

Browne said the Agri-Investment Forum has been regarded as an 'outstanding success'.

He noted that a large number of exhibitors, a wide range of participants including investors, manufacturers and members of the private sector have come together as well as Caricom heads and Brazil.

The Caricom Secretariat, he said, had a key role in both the Guyana and Port of Spain editions of the Agri Investment Forum.

'We really look forward to harvesting the results of all of these efforts,' he said.

Browne said food security is one of the highest areas of priority for the Caribbean community and going forward there will be routine reporting on this issue.

'The benefits ofthis Agri-Investment Forum will be distilled,will be reported, will be analysed and builtupon for the future,' he said.

Food security talks in Washington Browne said a high-level meeting is carded to be held in the US with respect to the region's food security.

'We also have a very important Committee and work with the Government of the United States of America on this as well as several other thematic areas but food security is one of them, Caricom is well represented there and it is my understanding that in the fairly near future there will be high level meeting in Washington DC on the theme of food security and helping move that forward. So all of these efforts are really building toward the next step and the people of this region don't just want talk and we can't just afford talk on this matter because we have to recognise that there have been efforts in the past,' he said.

'I think there is also recognition right now that the political will and commitment from the region's leadership is as high as it has ever been and even higher on the issue of food security. That energy, that passion and excitement has filtered to various levels as well,' he added.

Asked whether he thinks that reducing Caricom's food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025 is attainable, Browne said he thinks it is.

He said it is an ambitious goal given our individual and family habits and the dependence we tend to have on imported products.

However, Browne said the sensitisation that has been occurring and the large numbers visiting the exposition and participating in the activities will make a difference.

The message coming from the Caricom leadership, he said, is very clear.

'Leadership create culture and so that helps me and my colleagues be optimistic that that target can be achieved and even exceeded because that is what our people deserve,' he said.

Browne said Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness is scheduled to arrive in Trinidad for this country's 60 anniversary celebrations and will be a part of several key events and activities.

He said a detailed schedule is being worked out between both sides.

'We are looking forward to a very historic visit and a very important one for the bilateral relations for Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica,' he said.

HEADING OUT: Acting President Christine Kangaloo accompanies President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali to his plane at Piarco yesterday. President Ali left Trinidad and Tobago after a five-day official State visit during which he attended the Agri Investment Forum and Expo II. -Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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