The minister said that the new arrangement being considered is aimed at promoting food security and allowing local producers to reap some benefits from the market.
He told the media that the percentage allocated to local producers are constantly reviewed and should not be an issue, as the country obeys all the rules in trade agreement.
Jn Baptiste said he does not believe that the United States will institute penalties against St. Lucia for increasing the purchase of local poultry.
At present, importers are required to include 25 per cent of local poultry in their total purchase. Government has suggested a 10 per cent increase, which has inspired debates surrounding this issue.
Reports are that St. Lucia could face penalties if such a change is made. Exporters to St. Lucia have warned that the move is an illegal one and breaches principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The United States has questioned the imposition of the domestic purchase requirement for the importation of poultry. The Ministry of External Affairs has also written the Ministry of Agriculture informing them of the United States’ concerns regarding this issue.
Poultry importers have said should the percentage of local chicken be increased, they stand to lose big. The poultry importers and the ministry have met before, but there is no clear indication as to the next move.